Subzero weather kills 21 in Poland | News | DW | 05.01.2016
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Subzero weather kills 21 in Poland

Officials in Poland have said that 21 people died of hypothermia during a weekend cold spell. Certain areas saw temperatures drop to as low as minus 20 Celsius (minus 4 Fahrenheit).

All 21 of the deaths were recorded on Saturday and Sunday, bringing the total number of deaths linked to the cold weather since the start of November to 39.

"Twelve people died over the last 24 hours. We also recorded nine other victims the day before," said Bozena Wysocka, spokeswoman for the Polish government's center for security (RCB).

Fourteen people have also died since Christmas in the Polish-Slovak Tatra mountains. Most of the victims reportedly fell to their deaths after slipping on the icy slopes.

Poland's deadliest hypothermia weekend in recent years was December 19-20, 2009, when 42 people died.

Call for mutual support

In response to the recent deaths, police have called on Poland's 38 million residents to keep an eye out for anyone running the risk of hypothermia, especially the homeless, inebriated or the elderly.

A police spokeswoman told dpa news agency that the public had also been asked to "not react callously" if homeless or intoxicated people fall asleep in bus stops or entrances to buildings, where they ran the risk freezing to death.

The country's cold spell was late to arrive this winter, just like in 2014-2015 when 77 people died of hypothermia. In 2013-2014, 78 were killed by cold weather, down from 177 in 2012-2013.

ksb/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa)

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