\"Ireland

Ireland has escaped the worst of the Ice Age conditions raging across Europe.

Ireland hit by Europe’s big freeze as flight chaos affects thousands  

\"Ireland

Ireland has escaped the worst of the Ice Age conditions raging across Europe.

Ireland has escaped the worst of Ice Age conditions raging across Europe but travel plans have turned to chaos for thousands of air passengers.

Aer Lingus and Ryanair cancelled 40 flights to Britain and continental Europe on Sunday with several thousand passengers affected.

Many of the passengers affected have onward connections from UK and European airports which are now in doubt as adverse weather conditions sweep across the continent.

Over 250 people have already died on mainland Europe as temperatures plunge as low as minus 30 Celsius with the Ukraine the hardest hit of the Eastern nations.

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Ireland has yet to see temperatures below minus five and the weather was cold but pleasant on Sunday as rugby fans descended on Dublin for the opening Six Nations clash with Wales.

Many of the Welsh fans in town for the game face travel problems on their return home however, as airports across Britain stop flights.

Worst hit was the London area with Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports forced to cancel huge numbers of flights including transatlantic services.

Roads and railways have also ground to a halt across Europe as the big freeze takes hold.

Ukrainian authorities have already confirmed 122 deaths with many of those who died homeless people living on the streets.

Health authorities in the Ukraine have now ordered hospitals to stop discharging homeless patients after they are treated for hypothermia and frostbite. Local authorities have set up nearly 3,000 heating and food shelters.

The week-long cold spell is Europe’s worst in decades with reports of power cuts, frozen water pipes and widespread closures of schools, nurseries, airports and bus routes.

Snow has even fallen on the northern tip of Africa, dusting palm trees in the Algerian capital. Locals said it was the first time they remembered snow falling in Algiers in eight years.

In Italy, the heaviest snowfall in the capital Rome since the 1980s closed tourist attractions including the Colosseum and the Forum.

Parts of eastern Latvia and Lithuania saw record lows of minus 30 degrees.
In the Czech capital Prague, emergency services said one man had apparently used the cold to commit suicide.

“He drank a bottle of alcohol, took his clothes off and sat in a park,” said a spokesman.

In Slovakia, temperatures plummeted to minus 37 degrees while 80 percent of the Danube river in Romania is frozen over.

A four-month-old baby died in an unheated house in the Romanian city of Iasi and three others were taken into care as temperatures dipped as low as minus 20 degrees.

“These children were already suffering from malnutrition. When the cold hit, their situation went from bad to worse to catastrophic,” a spokesman said.

The UN’s World Meteorological Organization spokeswoman Clare Nullis told reporters that Europe’s unseasonably warm December and January meant this would not be a record-breaking winter.

The Serbian government has declared a state of emergency in the south and east of the country after six people died from exposure to the cold.

A funeral procession near the border with Macedonia was stuck for four hours and had to transfer the coffin to a 4x4 jeep.

Reports from the northern town of Ecka say workers in a local fishery had to use pneumatic drills to break ice and get to the fish.

“I have not seen anything like this for more than two decades,” said fisherman Nikola Kircic.

Tractors are being used to take food to animals in the mountains of southwestern Satornja.

“Roe deer and other small game are on the verge of starvation as the grass is under heavy snow,” said local hunter Momir Nikolic.

The German weather service DWD has said it expects extreme cold to continue in central and eastern Europe for the next four days, but that temperatures would rise back above freezing point in most parts of France and Britain.

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