– Italy struggles under record cold snap (Press TV, Feb 8, 2012):
Italy has been hit by the most intense cold wave of the last 70 years. Freezing temperatures took the death toll across the country to over 40.
In some inland Northern areas temperatures have reached minus 25 degrees Celsius while snow keeps falling relentlessly.
In Central Italy, the Abruzzo region administration has declared a state of emergency due to the persistent bad weather. Heavy snow has left several Italian villages isolated and without power.
The Italian army has been called in by the Prefecture offices to help with rescue operations and residents have been urged only to leave homes for utmost emergency.
The wave of extremely cold weather across Italy has made gas consumption reach record levels between Monday and Tuesday with a demand of approximately 460 million cubic meters a day, 15 to 20 per cent more than usual, a level that requires the activation of emergency measures in line with European Union policies.
Italy is Europe’s third-biggest gas user, importing about 20 percent of its supplies from Russia. However Russia has recently lowered its natural-gas deliveries to the extent that some industry customers had their supplies interrupted within their contract terms.
Snowfalls have caused disruption to road, rail and air travel everywhere in Italy. The country’s transport infrastructure has been accused of being out of date and not suitable for snowy and icy weather conditions.
An investigation into delays and difficulties in Rome brought on by last week’s harsh weather conditions was opened on Wednesday. Meanwhile, forecasters predicted even colder temperature in the coming days.