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Selcan Hacaoglu, Associated Press
Coots fight for a piece of bread on the frozen Lake of Eymir, near Ankara, Turkey, on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012. Winter temperatures and recent snowfall has partially paralyzed life in Turkey.

BELGRADE, Serbia — Heavy snow and freezing weather led to four deaths and left two people missing Monday in Serbia and Bulgaria, prompting authorities to close down schools and introduce emergency measures.

Exceptionally cold weather and snowstorms hit parts of central and eastern Europe last week, causing traffic chaos, road closures and electric outages that left entire villages cut off.

As temperatures dropped to around minus 20 Celsius (minus 4 Fahrenheit), authorities urged people to be careful and remain indoors.

In central Serbia, three people have died and two more are missing and 14 municipalities throughout the country were under emergency plans. Efforts to clear roads of snow were hampered by strong winds and dozens of towns lost their electric supplies.

Police said one woman froze to death in a snowstorm in a central village, while two elderly men were found dead, one in the snow outside his home and the other inside his snow-covered home in the same area. Further south, emergency crews are searching for two men in their 70s who are feared dead.

In neighboring Bulgaria, a 57-year-old man froze to death in a northwestern village and emergency "code orange" was declared in 25 of the 28 districts. In the capital of Sofia, authorities set up spots where hot tea was distributed for free and placed homeless people in emergency shelters.

Strong winds also closed down Bulgaria's main Black Sea port of Varna.

In the Czech capital of Prague, city authorities announced plans to set up tents for the estimated 3,000 homeless people. Freezing temperatures in the Czech Republic also damaged train tracks, slowing railway traffic.


Associated Press writers Veselin Toshkov in Sofia, Bulgaria, and Karel Janicek in Prague, Czech Republic, contributed to this report.