Death toll from hypothermia reaches 100 this winter in Moscow

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Moscow, Feb 16 (UNI) One person froze to death and three others suffered from frostbite in the last 24 hours here, bringing the total number of those killed by low temperature this winter to hundred.

''Thus, since November 1, 2007, hundred people have frozen to death and 485 others have suffered from hypothermia or frostbite in Moscow,'' an anonymous medical source told Interfax news agency today.

As many as 74 people froze to death in the 2006-2007 winter season and the last of those deaths occurred in early February 2007.

The death toll in the 2005-2006 winter season reached 170, while 153 people died as a result of the cold in 2004-2005. The last death from cold here in the winter of 2004-2005 was recorded on March 31.

With temperature dipping down to minus 15 degree Celsius this weekend, the government has employed a huge armies of street cleaners (dvorniki) charged with sweeping the city's sidewalks and clean the snow and ice.

Currently, the battle against ice on the sidewalks and roads has become more high-tech and, more recently, eco-friendly.

The main weapon is deicing chemicals, which have often been blamed by Muscovites for damaging their footwear and even for the death of fish in the Moscow River into which the chemicals flow.

The city authorities have recommended sticking bandages or sandpaper onto the soles of shoes to avoid slipping on the snowy grounds.

Ice on the sidewalks is just one of the winter hazards that pedestrians face in Moscow. The danger of falling icicles means that the threat can come from above as well as below.

The icicles falling from roofs are responsible for dozens of deaths and injuries every year.

The removal of icicles longer than 10 centimeters from buildings is required by law and enforced by the city.

Every day, local authorities check at least 1,500 buildings and those who do not take the appropriate measures to deal with the buildup of ice and snow are fined.

Avoiding the danger from above is a matter of watching out for roofs that are iced over, particularly during thaws, as this is when ice is most often dislodged.

UNI XC SYU RK1820

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