Over 20 die in cold snap across Europe

A cold wave across Europe has left at least 20 people dead in the past two days, including several homeless and migrants, authorities said on Saturday, with the frigid temperatures expected to continue through the weekend.

Russia meanwhile celebrated the coldest Orthodox Christmas in 120 years, and Istanbul was covered with a blanket of snow.

Ten of the latest victims of the cold perished in Poland where sub-freezing conditions remain with minus 14 degrees Celsius forecast on Saturday.

“Seven people died on Friday in what was the deadliest day this winter,” said spokeswoman Bozena Wysocka from the Polish government centre for security (RCB).There was heavy snowfall in central Italy and also in the southeast where the airports at Bari and Brindisi as well as in Sicily were closed on Saturday morning. Temperatures in Moscow fell to minus 30 degrees overnight and to minus 24 in Saint Petersburg where police found the body of a man who had died of hypothermia.

And in Bulgaria on Friday the frozen bodies of two Iraqi migrants were discovered by villagers in a mountain forest in the southeast of the country near the border with Turkey. Authorities expect the toll to rise as weather conditions are set to remain unchanged this weekend.

The winter snow storms reached Turkey, paralysing its biggest city Istanbul where hundreds of flights were cancelled on Saturday. Traffic through the Bosphorus strait was also disrupted.

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