Extreme cold and snow hit Poland

Four people froze to death in Poland's cold spell, media reported Saturday, while two others were killed when a roof collapsed under the weight of snow.

Temperatures were lowest in Suwalki, an eastern town on the border with Belarus in Podlaskie province, where they hit -27 C (-17 F) in the early morning hours, triggering power outages to 1,900 homes.

Poland's PAP news agency reported that four people have frozen to death since Friday in Podlaskie. It cited police as saying that all four had consumed alcohol before dying.

Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz said the government would release 600,000 zlotys (US$190,000 or €155,000) from a reserve fund for homeless shelters and state social services in an effort to protect poverty-stricken people.

"We have to react to keep people from freezing to death," Marcinkiewicz said. "Homeless shelters are prepared to take in all those in need."

In an accident apparently triggered by snowfall, two men died when the roof of a small company's headquarters collapsed in the southern town of Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski, police spokesman Krzysztof Skorek told PAP.

In the capital, Warsaw, temperatures fell to -22 C (-8 F) before warming to -12 C (10 F) later in the day.

Throughout the country, trains were delayed and traffic was snarled by snow and slippery roads.

Meteorologists predicted that temperatures would fall even lower on Sunday.

Poland regularly suffers harsh winters. Authorities already have estimated that more than 120 people have frozen to death since October, AP reported. V.A.

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