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Report: Ukraine cold weather claims 83 lives

By CNN Staff
December 22, 2012 -- Updated 1731 GMT (0131 HKT)
Homeless people queue to get free hot food in Kiev this week as a cold snap claims many lives.
Homeless people queue to get free hot food in Kiev this week as a cold snap claims many lives.
  • NEW: Arctic air has kept temperatures in the capital, Kiev, below average for over a week
  • Hundreds of people have needed treatment for hypothermia, state media says
  • The cold snap has killed 83 people, a health official is quoted as saying
  • Bitter cold last winter claimed more than 110 lives in Ukraine

(CNN) -- A cold snap in Ukraine has killed 83 people, while hundreds more have sought treatment for hypothermia and frostbite, according to state media reports.

Some 536 people have been hospitalized with hypothermia, an adviser to Health Minister Volodymyr Yurchenko is quoted as saying Friday by state news agency Ukrinform.

Of those 83 have died, he told a meeting of the Emergency Situations Ministry.

Authorities have set up nearly 2,800 "heating points" to help vulnerable people across the country, according to the Emergency Situations Ministry website.

Between December 15 and 21, these relief centers have helped more than 13,500 people, it said.

Cold arctic air has blasted Ukraine for more than a week, forcing temperatures in the capital, Kiev, below the December average high of 0 degrees and low of -5 degrees Celsius, CNN forecasters say.

The mercury in Kiev hasn't risen above -8 degrees Celsius (17.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since Monday. But the chilliest period came Tuesday, when it plummeted to -17 degrees Celsius (1.4 degree Fahrenheit.)

While the forecast doesn't look much better over the next couple of days, the capital may get back to near average temperatures on December 25 and 26.

Last winter, more than 110 people died in Ukraine as a result of a bitter cold spell that lasted around a month, from January into February.

The government said then that more 90% of the deaths were alcohol-related, with some victims drinking in the mistaken belief it would help keep them warm.

CNN's Laura Smith-Spark and Judson Jones contributed to this report.

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