59 dead as “Beast from the East” winter storm sweeps through Europe

World Today

A winter storm sweeping through Europe has claimed 59 lives so far. Dubbed, “the Beast from the East,” it’s brought high winds and snow as far south as Italy.

It’s closed schools and shut down transit systems and airports in at least five countries. CGTN’s Mariam Zaidi reports from Brussels.

Europe is being battered. Siberian winds blowing in from Russia have sent temperatures plummeting and covered cities under a blanket of snow.

In the U.K., they’re calling it the “Beast from the East.” Rail, road and air services have all been severely affected. In some cases, grinding to a halt. Armed forces have also been deployed to help.

But adding to the weather woes is Storm Emma blowing in gale-force winds and blizzards across the U.K. and Ireland. Over in Dublin, the airport remains shut while crews work to clear runways.  Flights are though expected to resume Saturday morning.

Across the English Channel, Paris’s most iconic landmark faired no better. The extreme weather has also sparked panic buying. Supermarket shelves stripped bare as people are warned to stay indoors.

But these pictures from Berlin show how some are having to survive the deadly temperatures on the streets. In one Brussels’ neighborhood, a unique solution has been found to help the most vulnerable.

“For the respect of humanity, morality and legality, I cannot leave anyone on the streets,” said Etterbeek  Mayor Vincent De Wolf. “We have an unused law that allows me to help people living on the streets who are in danger.”

“Ten people have already been found in Etterbeek by police,” he added. “They were brought to a hospital and assesed by a doctor. He concluded they were at serious risk if they stayed outdoors, and they were brought to our communal center.  Even if they do not want to voluntarily come in, I can force them.  It’s in the interest of their safety.”

The Brussels neighborhood of Etterbeek is also home to the European Council and European Commission and the measures enacted by local authorities may seem severe.

But temperatures in Brussels are set to drop well below zero, and “The Beast from the East” is set to continue causing havoc for several days to come.