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January 07, 2017

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Heavy snowfall and below-freezing temperatures continued to sweep the European continent Saturday, causing more than a dozen deaths, grounding airplanes and crippling ferries in Italy and Turkey.

At least 10 people have died in the cold that has gripped Poland in recent days, included seven men ages 41 and 66 who died Friday, authorities said. A 51-year-old died of asphyxiation with carbon monoxide from a malfunctioning heater.

Temperatures in Poland dropped below -20 degrees Celsius (-4 F) on Saturday, and weather forecasts said they would sink more overnight. A man died also died Saturday in Belgium when his truck slid off a highway.

In Italy, sub-freezing temperatures were blamed for the deaths of a half-dozen homeless people. Heavy snow and high winds resulted in re-routed flights, delayed ferries, canceled trains and closed roads, media reported.

With no indications of a letup, some schools in southern Italy were ordered not to open on Monday because of the meter (yard) of snow already had buried some areas, the ANSA news agency reported. The chill didn’t spare sunny Rome. The fountains in St. Peter’s Square froze overnight and dripped icicles instead.

Temperatures dropped to -7 degrees Celsius (19 degrees Fahrenheit) in Greece’s second largest city of Thessaloniki, and -10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) was expected Sunday, according to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

Several Greek islands, otherwise known for their sunny and warm weather, were blanketed in snow. Roads were closed temporarily across large swathes of northern Greece due to snow and ice. Heavy snow also crippled Istanbul, and national carrier Turkish Airlines canceled more than 650 flights. The state-run Anadolu news agency reported that even the Bosporus Strait — which runs through Istanbul and is one of Europe’s busiest shipping lanes — was closed and ferry service halted.

Turkey’s private Dogan news agency reported that one of the main highways in Istanbul practically turned into a parking lot after drivers deserted their cars Friday night to walk home rather than battle the gusting snow and slippery roads.

A pair of delivery men whose truck was parked on a side street made the best of the situation, engaging in a snowball fight in between pushing their loads through mounds of snow that built up at the roadside.

In northern Europe, where residents are accustomed to subzero temperatures and snowy winters, police in Denmark warned about icy and slippery roads after dozens of minor traffic accidents. Temperatures in Latvia were forecast to drop to -30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit) late Saturday, the Baltic News Agency said.

Raf Casert in Brussels, Mike Corder in Istanbul, Nicole Winfield in Rome, Monika Scislowska in Warsaw, Poland and Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.

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