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Freezing Moscow Faces Energy Crunch

Homeless men crouching over a Moscow ventilation shaft on 18 January (epa) 18 January 2006 -- Moscow switched to a "strict" conservation program today as record-low temperatures continued to drop.

Temperatures in the Russian capital overnight plunged to minus 30 degrees Celsius , and to even colder levels in other parts of the country. At least 10 people froze to death or were hospitalized as a result of exposure to the cold.

Russian media said the energy conservation program would basically mean targeted power cuts to various businesses.

The Kremlin ceremonial guard service said it may halve shifts around the eternal flame at the foot of the Kremlin walls to 30 minutes because of the cold.

(compiled from Russian media reports, AFP)

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