Hungry, freezing truck drivers trapped by Europe's deadly winter snow

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Associated Press

Blizzards and dangerously low temperatures persisted in parts of Europe on Sunday, prompting Pope Francis to draw attention to the homeless suffering in freezing weather.

In southern Italy 50 trucks remained stuck in snow for three nights as high winds and heavy snow close roads, delay flights and ferries.
Source: Associated Press

The extreme winter weather that has gripped Europe in the past days has caused more than a dozen deaths, left villages cut off, caused power and water outages, frozen rivers and lakes, grounded flights and led to road accidents.

Some 50 trucks have remained parked in the snow since Friday on State Highway 650 in the Molise region of southern Italy.

Angry truck drivers said on the weekend that they were not allowed to proceed due to the difficult conditions on the road.

They complained that authorities had cleared a passage for cars, but had not put down salt or made the roads passable for large trucks.

The trucks are expected to move again later today or early tomorrow.

Truck drivers complained of being extremely cold and having little food.

In Italy, eight deaths were blamed on the cold, including a man who died in the basement of an unused building in Milan, and another one on a street flanking Florence's Arno River.

Pope Francis asked God to "warm our hearts so we'll help" the homeless.

Two men died of cold in Poland on the weekend, bringing the nation's death toll from winter weather to 55 since November 1, authorities said overnight. Temperatures dropped to minus 30 degrees in the mountains of southern Poland.

In Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, several hundred men, mostly from Afghanistan and Pakistan, remained in an abandoned customs warehouse by the city's bus station, where aid organisations distributed heaters, blankets, clothes and food in an attempt to keep them warm.

"We are all working together to help these people," Mirjana Milenkovski, a spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency, said.

German federal police said overnight they picked up 19 migrants - including five children - at a highway stop in Bavaria who were suffering from hypothermia after their driver disappeared and left them on the back of an unheated a truck for hours in the freezing cold.

Elsewhere, emergency measures were declared in several municipalities in Serbia's south and southwest. Dozens of villages in Serbia's remote Pestar region were sealed off by heavy snow, prompting the evacuation of some 100 people by emergency crews. Authorities said 70 kilometres of water pipes there were frozen

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