Second homeless man freezes to death in Belgian cold snap

Two homeless men froze to death in central Brussels, Belgian media reported Sunday, as the first winter snow took the country by surprise.

A man died in the hospital on Sunday after he was found suffering from hypothermia in a bus shelter, the VTM broadcaster said on its news web site.

A 43-year old man also died of the cold on Saturday in the doorway of the St. Catherine church next to two friends who were later hospitalized for hypothermia, the television channel Een said.

The winter plan for the country's estimated 2,000 homeless begins Monday.

Belgium sometimes goes through winter without any serious snowfall and the sudden cold followed an unusually warm autumn season.

Authorities were struggling to respond to electricity blackouts and black ice on the roads which killed one person and injured two on Saturday.

Parts of Flanders were still without electricity on Sunday after the snow knocked out the power supply near Aalst and Mechelen, Een said.

People were warned to be careful of heavy snow loads bringing down trees and branches.

However, the snow was cause to celebrate for skiers in the south of the country as slopes in the Hautes Fagnes in Liege province reported between 10 and 15 centimeters (4 and 6 inches) of snow. Cross-country slopes opened for business but alpine skiers will have to wait for more snow over the coming days, AP reported. V.A.

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