Europe freezes over

Grey skies over the Danube river which has frozen over

The new year dawned cold for Europe as temperatures fell sharply in countries such as Poland, Greece, Turkey and Serbia. Rivers like the Danube have frozen over and cities are carpeted in a layer of snow. This is the coldest time of the year in Europe.

While northern Europe is always extremely cold in winter as it is close to the Arctic Circle, the southern part of the continent (which has countries such as Greece) is experiencing colder than usual weather this year. The most affected are the poor, homeless and refugees. Over 60 people have already died due to the cold.

Wars in West Asia have driven thousands of people out of their homes in countries like Syria. These people have fled their country for Europe where they live in camps in Greece, Germany and other countries. Most do not have warm clothes and their temporary homes are not heated. In Greece, government officials are shifting refugees from camps into empty hotel rooms until the cold ends.

Countries like Romania have halted traffic on the Danube river as the slippery ice is too dangerous for boats. In some parts of Europe, flights also couldn’t take off due to bad weather.

An Indian man pulls a tourist on a sledge through snow at Patnitop in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir state, India, Sunday, Jan.8, 2017. The Kashmir region remained cut off from the rest of the country for the third consecutive day Sunday. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

Meanwhile, a cold spell covered the northernmost state of Jammu & Kashmir with snow. Tourists and children took delight in playing in the snow. However, road traffic to the Kashmir valley had to be halted due to poor weather. Himachal Pradesh and its capital Shimla also received snow in January and more is expected in the next few weeks.