The Arctic storm dubbed the “Beast from the East” set record low temperatures across much of Europe and brought a rare snowstorm to Rome, paralysing the city and giving its residents an unusual chance to ski, sledge and build snowmen in its famous parks and piazzas.
Rome’s train, plane and bus services were crippled and Italy’s civil protection agency even mobilised the army to help clear slush-covered streets as a city more accustomed to mild winters was covered by a thick blanket of snow.
Elsewhere, the storm set dangerously low temperatures. Meteorologists in Germany reported a record low for this winter of minus 27C on the Zugspitze mountain in the Alps.
The intense winter weather has been dubbed “The Beast from the East”, with Siberia cited as the source of the frigid temperatures.
In Croatia, about 1,000 soldiers joined in the clearing operations in the worst-affected areas, where more than 5ft was reported.
A collision between a truck and a bus in a snow-covered north-western region of the country left 14 people seriously injured.
Officials in Lithuania said the low temperatures claimed the lives of at least three people over the weekend in the Baltic nation’s capital.
Emergency medical officials in Vilnius reported that seven other people suffered substantial frostbite to their hands and feet in the past few days.
Baltic neighbour Latvia reported that eight people have been rushed to hospital with hypothermia and frostbite due to the cold spell.
Estonia’s state weather service is forecasting the cold spell to remain in the Baltic region throughout this week, with temperatures expected to drop to minus 29C in some areas.
Rome’s Mediterranean climate and proximity to the sea usually result in mild winters.