Winter death toll now 50 as mercury dives in Europe

Cold weather blanketing much of eastern and central Europe has killed more than 50 people in the last five days.

Emergency services authorities in Ukraine said Tuesday that 30 people died, mostly the homeless, as a result of the cold in recent days. Authorities say another 500 people were treated at hospitals for frostbite and other cold-related injuries. Emergency workers have provided hundreds of heated tents and have given food to those vulnerable to the cold temperatures, which reached lows of minus 23 C ( – 9 F).

Meanwhile, officials in Poland reported five new deaths Tuesday, bringing the death toll there to 15 as overnight temperatures dipped to minus 30 C (-22 F) in parts of the country.

In Romania, the health ministry says two people died due to the cold temperatures, raising the death toll to eight since the cold spell began last week.

The freezing weather has caught many Europeans by surprise, as this winter had been unusually mild with spring-like temperatures in many cities.

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