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Germany sees rise in cold-related deaths

December 24, 2018

The German association for homeless people has claimed that sleeping out in cold temperatures caused the victims to die. Last year, the winter chill claimed three lives during the same period.

People walk past a homeless person in the Frankfurter Allee in Berlin, Germany on January 19, 2018
Image: picture alliance/NurPhoto/E. Contini

At least nine homeless people have died across Germany due to low temperatures since October, the German body that tracks homelessness (BAGW) said on Monday.

"We know of nine people who died at night for no fault of their own," Werena Rosenke, the association's managing director told the newspaper Rheinische Post. "In some cases forensic medical examinations are still ongoing, but we assume that the victims had no dwelling and froze to death due to low temperatures."

Four of the deaths were reported in the port city of Hamburg, two in Düsseldorf and one each in Cologne, Essen and the eastern German city of Lauchhammer.

In 2017, three cold-related deaths were reported during the same period, although many more went unreported, the group claimed.

Berlin: homeless capital of Germany

Homelessness on the rise

The association warned that the number of people in Germany without a home may have crossed one million for the first time.

Last year, the group had estimated the number of people without an apartment to be about 860,000, including 52,000 people who live on the streets, without a roof over their heads.

Read morePoverty, homelessness on the rise despite German affluence

"The total number could already have risen to one million by now," Rosenke said. "Last year our forecast was that soon 1.2 million men, women and children could be without a home of their own."

The association documents cold-related deaths based on media reports. It criticizes the German government for not maintaining any statistics on cold deaths or on homelessness in the country.

About 300 people have frozen to death in Germany since 1990.

ap/jm (KNA, AFP)

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Victims of the brutal cold