Heavy snow brings Istanbul to a halt

Eastern European officials say 60 people died in winter's frigid grip.

ISTANBUL, Turkey | February 1, 2012

Heavy snow and blizzard conditions ground Istanbul, Turkey, to a halt Wednesday while eastern European officials say 60 people died in winter's frigid grip.

Istanbul officials said said the city's transit buses were unable to run because of heavy snow, which weather officials reached nearly 20 inches in some parts of the city, Today's Zaman reported.

At least 87 domestic and international flights at Istanbul Ataturk Airport were canceled early Wednesday because of poor weather conditions, airport authorities said. Ferry service also was halted.

In Europe, The Irish Times reported 60 deaths -- with Ukraine's Emergencies Ministry listing 30 fatalities, Poland at least 15 and the Baltic states, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Bosnia and Romania and Bulgaria accounting for the others.

The temperature reached minus-56 degrees F in Russia and bitter cold also took hold in Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria, Sky News reported Wednesday. Even Greece experienced snow.

Euronews reported Tuesday it's been so cold in the Czech Republic train tracks buckled and locomotives broke down.

Sky News said a heavy snowstorm closed the Bosphorus Strait in Turkey to large ships Tuesday.

"It has completely affected daily life in Istanbul," one man told the broadcaster. "No shops are open and there is no traffic."

Inmates from a prison near Bucharest, Romania, volunteered to dig out 300 dogs trapped in snowbound kennels, the news agency said.

Sky News reported most of the fatalities in Ukraine were homeless people who froze to death. The military set up shelters and more than 600 people were treated for frostbite and hypothermia, the British broadcaster said.

"I drank a bit, and slept on the bench, woke up in the night and couldn't feel my legs," one man in a hospital in the capital Kiev told Sky News.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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