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Giorgos Nisiotis, Associated Press
Greek rescuers carry an evacuated man in a dinghy through the flooded village of Ormenio, on the northeastern border with Bulgaria, after severe flooding when the swollen Evros River broke its banks on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. Authorities had to help five elderly people escape from their flooded homes in Ormenio. Several elderly residents were also evacuated overnight from another three villages in the area.

SOFIA, Bulgaria — Bulgaria and Romania are suspending all shipping on the Danube River due to severe frost and the vast amount of ice blocking the heavily traveled waterway, Bulgaria's Transport Ministry said Wednesday.

Authorities say up to 90 percent of the river surface is covered with floating ice, making it extremely difficult to traverse Europe's main commercial waterway, which winds 2,860-kilometer (1,777-mile) from Germany and serves as the natural border between Bulgaria and Romania.

Europeans across the continent have been battling a deep freeze that started in late January and has killed hundreds, trapped thousands behind snow in Balkan mountain villages and prompted worries of flooding as heavy snow melts. In Greece and Bulgaria, flooding on Monday and Tuesday left dozens of homes under water and at least eight dead.

Romania and Bulgaria's decision come the day after Serbian emergency officials said the country's army will use explosives to break up ice on the Danube and Ibar rivers to try to prevent the possibility of flooding.

Elsewhere, strong wind knocked over power lines and left tens of thousands without electricity in Bosnia, potentially for the next several days.

Half of the town of Mostar, Bosnia's second largest city, is without power and snow piled some 2 1/2 feet (80 centimeters) is preventing teams from dealing with the problem, government spokesman Pero Pavlovic said.

People in Mostar fell into a "shopping hysteria", emptying shelves and in some cases getting into fist fights over flour, he said.

The Polish Interior Ministry said Wednesday that six more people died as a result of the freezing weather. It also called on people be careful when using coal heaters, reporting that one person died of asphyxiation. The temperatures in the country fell at times to minus 32 C (minus 26 F).


Associated Press writers Aida Cerkez in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Monika Scislowska in Warsaw, Poland, contributed to this report.