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Europe: Dangerously Cold Weather Continues

Prague, 2 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - Much of Europe remains locked in a cold snap after an unusually bitter week across the continent.

More than 140 people have reportedly died from Spain to Russia, mostly among communities of the homeless and the elderly.

The cold claimed another victim today in France -- a man who died while walking home in subfreezing temperatures after his car wouldn't start.

Officials said Jean Caquelard of Normandy died of an apparent heart attack while walking the three kilometers home in minus 15 degrees celsius temperatures.

In the United States, severe flooding in Northern and Central California has forced 18 counties to declare emergencies, including the wine-producing Napa Valley region. Swollen rivers overflowed their banks, flooding several communities, cutting off roadways, and forcing hundreds to evacuate their homes.

The flooding is just the latest in a series of weather problems in the Western United States and Canada, which has been hard hit by a series of storms spawned in the Hawaiian Islands.

Road and rail traffic returned to normal in eastern and southern Romania today after last week's blizzards. The official Romanian news agency Rompres said traffic is normal on all main roads.