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Italy braces for more freezing weather as snow causes traffic chaos

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Italy braces for more freezing weather as snow causes traffic chaos
A small snowman by the ancient Roman Forum. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
12:17 CET+01:00
Italy's current wintery weather is expected to last for at least another week, experts warned on Tuesday. The country has been hit by blankets of snow and below-freezing temperatures, causing disruption to traffic and school closures.

The Siberian winds have seen temperatures plunge across much of Europe and have claimed at least ten lives across the continent. One homeless man in Italy reportedly died of heart failure near the central train station in Milan, where the mercury dropped to -6C on Monday night.

Rome awoke to its first snowfall in six years on Monday, with temperatures falling to -4C on Tuesday morning, according to the Italian Meteorological Service. In the capital, several train and metro stations as well as churches and other buildings were transformed into emergency shelters for the city's homeless population, while similar initiatives took place across the country.

Nuns take photos in a snow-covered Rome. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Three military vehicles were in the capital on Tuesday morning to clear streets, with more on the way. Meanwhile, the Italian Air Force was using its helicopters to survey the city and try to identify any isolated people. Bus and tram services were running close to a normal service, while rail traffic was heavily disrupted, with only 50 percent of Lazio's regional trains guaranteed.

Dolina Campoluzzo in northern Italy, located at an altitude of 1,768 metres (5,800 feet), recorded one of the lowest temperatures in Europe at -40C. Across South Tyrol, several towns experienced record low temperatures.

Neapolitans were surprised by the Campania capital's heaviest snow in over 50 years, and Naples' Capodichino airport was closed for around 90 minutes on Tuesday morning due to poor visibility caused by the snow while bus, tram, and train traffic was also affected. Meanwhile, schools were closed across Naples for a second day on Tuesday and will remain shut on Wednesday too, the mayor announced. Mayor Luigi de Magistris advised residents only to leave their homes "if strictly necessary".

In total, some schools across the country could remain closed for a total of nine days: since many are set to be used as polling stations for Sunday's election, closures had already been scheduled between Friday and Tuesday.

And several of Italy's major football matches, including Italian Cup games on Wednesday between Juventus/Atalanta and AC Milan/Lazio, could be postponed if the cold weather continues.

A complete list of disruptions to train timetables can be found at Trenitalia's website while advice for motorists is available at the police website. General weather warnings and alerts covering the whole country can be found at the website of the Civil Protection Agency.

For anyone who decided not to travel due to the bad weather, or whose journey was delayed by more than three hours, Trenitalia has promised a full refund of ticket prices. Transport Minister Graziano Delrio has also promised a report to look into why the railway system was unable to cope with the forecast snow.

 

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