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Extreme Cold Claims Victims Across Russia And Europe

Russians shivering in Vladivostok (ITAR-TASS) 23 January 2006 -- Russia, and Central and Eastern Europe continued to shiver today under wintry temperatures that in some locations plummeted to minus 30 degrees Celsius.

More than 50 people have been reported killed by the cold wave in Russia over the past 48 hours and scores of victims have been reported elsewhere in Europe.

Poland reported 27 deaths from exposure over the weekend. In Ukraine -- where an energy dispute continues with Russia over natural gas -- 24 people have died from the cold since yesterday morning.

Georgia, struggling with limited gas supplies following a pipeline explosion, saw temperatures drop to as low as minus 30 Celsius in mountain regions.

Deaths were reported in many other countries across Europe, including Estonia, Romania, and Germany.

The cold also has forced the closure of Romania's Black Sea ports and shipping through the Danube-Black Sea canal.

In the Czech Republic, the Temelin nuclear power plant was idled for some six hours after a technical malfunction blamed on low temperatures. Forecasters expect the deep freeze to continue.

(compiled from agency reports)