Brutally cold temperatures have descended on the Continent, and in some European countries they've proven fatal.
Hundreds of people have died as a result of the frigid weather chilling Europeans from France to Romania. Thick ice and sub-zero temperatures have literally frozen transportation and navigation services across thousands of miles and a half-dozen countries. The severe cold has left tens of thousands of EU citizens cut off from the rest of the world.
"Local authorities in Rome have begun distributing 4,000 spades for local residents," reports Al Jazeera. "They have boosted the city's stocks of salt to 1,000 tons and have dozens of snow ploughs at the ready after criticism of previous preparations. Forecasts said freezing winds were set to pick up later on Thursday and bring more snow on Friday and Saturday to the Italian Capital."
Further complicating the dire situation is a looming energy crisis. The freezing weather has ramped up European demand for foreign energy, most of which is supplied by Russia. The Russian government has to ship its energy through Ukraine, and European suspicions have been aroused that the Ukrainian government, also grappling with the bitter cold, might be skimming a little fuel off the top.
State power companies are warning that restrictions may be put in place unless electricity comsumption is reduced in the coming days.
Serbia recorded the lowest temperatures this week, reaching minus 27 degrees Celsius on Thursday.