Russian cold snap death toll reaches 119

Jan. 19, 2006 at 8:47 AM
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MOSCOW, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- The death toll from a Siberian cold front gripping Russia rose to 119 people Thursday as energy consumption hit new highs.

Power demand in Moscow soared this week, as temperatures as low as minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit prompted residents to turn to electric heaters, the Novosti news agency said.

The natural gas supplier Gazprom has halved gas supplies to a number of Moscow power plants, forcing the plants to dip into fuel oil reserves, Itar-Tass reported.

The BBC said many Moscow schools and businesses are shut, electrical billboards turned off, cars were unable to start and trolley buses put out of action by snapped cables.

Thursday's cold snap coincided with the Russian Orthodox holiday of the Epiphany, and many people ignored warnings from doctors and priests against taking part in a ritual dip in freezing outdoor pools.

The Moscow zoo's six walruses were also avoiding their outdoor pool and staying in their warm cages, the Moscow Times reported.

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