The severe cold snap gripping most of Russia has already killed at least 215 people and injured over 5,500, the Health Ministry said on Monday.
“Over the January 1-February 13 period, 5,546 people in Russia suffered from hypothermia and chilblains, including 154 children. A total of 3,382 people were admitted to hospitals, including 52 children. At least 215 people died,” the ministry said in a statement.
The low termperature on Sunday night in Moscow was near the record for February 12, minus 28.5 degrees Celsius (-19 Fahrenheit).
The biting cold compels Russians to make excessive use heating devices such as electrical space heaters and furnaces, which increase the fire risk.
The current temperatures in Russia are 7-12 degrees below normal. The cold snap even extends into the normally warm North Caucasus with temperatures there plummeting to minus 20 degrees Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit). Siberia and the Far East are currently in a deep freeze at minus 40 degrees Celsius.
Freezing temperatures also hit many European countries, including the Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Ukraine, where extremely low temperatures killed scores of people.