Freezing weather hits much of Europe, from Poland to Turkey

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Extreme cold has hit large parts of Europe, with freezing temperatures cracking railroad tracks in Poland, snow blanketing the Turkish city of Istanbul and smog spiking as coal was being burned to generate heat.

In Switzerland, a skier who had been buried by an avalanche on the weekend died in a hospital of his injuries, authorities said Monday.

The country had issued avalanche warnings several days earlier after heavy snowfall hit various regions. Officials said the skier and his two companions were buried by an avalanche while they were skiing off marked trails in the Gstaad area on Sunday afternoon.

One man was able to free himself from the snow and then extricate one of the others, but the third man could only be found by rescue crews who arrived later on the scene. He was taken to a hospital in critical condition and died a short time later, authorities said.

Temperatures dropped to minus 28 degrees Celsius (minus 18 Fahrenheit) in some Polish areas overnight, the coldest night in 11 years. Many trains were delayed on Monday after tracks at two Warsaw railway stations cracked.

Hand-in-hand with the cold came a spike in smog in Warsaw and other parts of Poland, as the cold prompted an increase in burning coal for heat. Air pollution levels were so high in Warsaw that city officials urged people to remain indoors.

Just across Poland’s southwestern border, the Czech Republic experienced the coldest night this year with temperatures dropping below minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 Fahrenheit) in many places.

The lowest temperature, of minus 27 degrees Celsius (minus 16 Fahrenheit), was recorded Monday in Orlicke Zahori, a mountainous village 160 kilometers (100 miles) east of Prague and near the Polish border, according to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute.

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