Ireland shutdown as Europe severe weather continues

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Media captionMotorists and pedestrians in Ukraine struggle with snow after heavy falls

Severe weather continues to bring chaos to large parts of Europe, where at least 55 people have died amid sub-zero temperatures.

Most transport and flights have been suspended in Ireland where strong winds brought by a storm left some 24,000 homes and businesses without power.

Several other countries have faced disruptions caused by snow and ice.

The death toll rose in Poland, and the public has been told to alert officials if they see people sleeping outside.

The unusually cold spell brought by a Siberian weather system was being felt as far south as the balmy Mediterranean.

Where are the problems?

The system has been given various nicknames – in the UK it is “the Beast from the East” while the Dutch call it the “Siberian bear” and Swedes the “snow cannon”.

It met Storm Emma on Thursday, causing blizzards and strong winds in parts of England, Wales and Ireland.

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Dublin Airport

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All flights from Dublin airport have been suspended

Flights in and out of Dublin and Cork airports were suspended until Saturday at the earliest. All schools in the country were shut and people were urged not to drive.

Some rail services operated by Eurostar between London, Paris and Brussels were axed, while the airport in the Swiss city of Geneva was shut because of snow.

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A tractor removes snow at the UN European headquarters in Geneva

In parts of central Italy, ice forced the closure of several roads and railways.

Where have the deaths been?

In Poland, at least 21 people have died, most of them rough-sleepers.

The high death toll is partially attributed to a combination of the severe cold and alcohol consumption by homeless people, who drink hoping to warm up, the BBC’s Warsaw correspondent Adam Easton reports.

When the night time temperature is -15C (5F), as it has been all week in the Polish capital, this is a deadly combination, our correspondent adds.

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Authorities have opened shelters to house homeless people

Seven people have died since Sunday in Slovakia, AFP news agency reports, and six more in the Czech Republic.

Five people were reported dead in Lithuania, four in France, two each in Serbia, Italy, Slovenia and Romania and one each in the UK and the Netherlands, AFP added.

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In Spain, one of three victims was a homeless man who had been sleeping in an abandoned truck.

Emergency shelters have been opened by authorities in many countries to cope with the needs of homeless citizens.

What is the forecast?

The conditions have already improved in some parts of Europe, and the temperatures are expected to rise over the next couple of days.

But the cold weather is likely to continue in parts of the UK and Ireland.

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