- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

KIEV (AP) — Thirty people, most of them homeless, have died of hypothermia in recent days in Ukraine, part of a surge of deaths across Eastern Europe as the region grapples with an unusually severe cold spell.

In all, at least 58 people have died from the cold in Europe over the past week.

Of the victims in Ukraine, 21 were found frozen on the streets, five died in hospitals, and four died in their own homes, said Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Yulia Yershova.

Temperatures plunged to minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit in the capital of Kiev and elsewhere in Ukraine, as schools and nurseries closed down and authorities set up hundreds of heated tents with hot tea and sandwiches for the homeless.

Kiev city administration head Oleksandr Popov ordered city schools and colleges closed beginning Wednesday through the end of the week, as temperatures are expected to drop to minus minus 18 F.

“They will be on a break at least until Monday,” Mr. Popov said on his website.

In Poland, five people have died of hypothermia in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll from the cold to 15 in the past four days, the national police said.

Temperatures sunk Tuesday to minus minus 17 F in the southeastern Polish city of Ustrzyki Gorne, and forecasts predicted minus minus 20 F in the region overnight.

In Romania, two people died in the past 24 hours from the frigid weather, the Health Ministry said Tuesday, bringing the total to eight cold-related deaths in the country since cold spell began. Temperatures plunged to minus 4 F overnight in Bucharest.

In Russia, one person died late Monday of the cold in Moscow, where temperatures fell to minus 6 F, the city’s Health Department said. The Russian Emergencies Ministry is not reporting deaths across the country yet.

Monika Scislowska in Warsaw, Alison Mutler in Bucharest and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.