Frozen fox cut from icy Danube as bitter cold sweeps Europe

A block of ice with a frozen fox stands in Fridingen, southern Germany, on Jan 13, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN - A drowned fox encased in a block of ice highlights the dangers that abound as bitterly cold winter temperatures sweep across Europe.

The animal fell through thin ice into the freezing waters of the Danube river near Fridingen on Jan 9, according to reports and was discovered four days later.

A member of the public used a saw to cut a cube around the creature, said Britain's Independent.

Extreme winter weather has gripped southern Germany's Baden-Württemberg state - where photographer Johannes Stehle captured the image - for more than a week.

Blizzards and dangerously low temperatures have paralysed much of the continent, with more than 60 people killed across Europe by the wintry weather.

Bulgarian authorities reported seven fatalities, said AFP. They included a couple in their 80s, the only inhabitants of a village in the mountainous region of Smolyan in southern Bulgaria, who were found dead in their home on Saturday.

Elsewhere in the country two Iraqi migrants died in a snowstorm, a couple both aged 55 were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning caused by faulty heating and a homeless man froze to death.

Temperatures sank to minus 18 deg C in the capital Sofia and Bulgarian authorities said electricity and gas demand have reached 20-year highs.

Most of the deaths over the past week have been in central and south-eastern Europe, with homeless people and migrants stranded in Greece, Serbia and elsewhere most at risk, AFP reported.

In Turkey, snow over the weekend paralysed Istanbul, forced the closure to ships of the Bosphorus Strait and the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

Maritime traffic on rivers including the Danube, one of Europe's busiest waterways, has also been severely hampered.

In Greece, on Wednesday, having been caught off guard and facing heavy criticism, the government sent a navy transport ship to the island of Lesbos, to house around 500 migrants still sleeping in tents.

Greece also announced a nationwide week-long hunting ban because of the cold weather gripping most of the country.

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