Eastern Europe deadly freeze leaves hundreds dead

A child walks through Gorky Park, Moscow, 24 December Temperatures in Moscow on Monday fell below minus 20C

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Freezing weather in eastern Europe has claimed at least 220 lives this month, most of them in the former USSR.

Temperatures in Russia have been 10 to 15 degrees below average, with -50C (-58F) recorded in Siberia. At least 88 deaths have been reported.

Ukraine reported 83 deaths on Friday and Poland 49, while heavy snow caused disruption in the Balkans.

However, conditions have begun to ease, with Moscow expecting to see temperatures of around 0C by Thursday.

The harsh weather has been attributed to a high pressure front over Russia and Kazakhstan.

Many of the victims across Europe were homeless people while in Poland, most of the deaths were caused by carbon monoxide inhalation as a result of faulty heating.

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