Moscow endures third day of cold snap; 24 reported dead across Russia |

Moscow endures third day of cold snap; 24 reported dead across Russia

MOSCOW – Temperatures so frigid that even winter-hardened Russians complained gripped Moscow and much of the rest of the country for a third day Wednesday. At least two dozen people reportedly died of exposure nationwide and Russians used a record amount of electricity to keep warm.Temperatures dropped to 22 degrees below zero overnight, Moscow’s First Deputy Mayor Pyotr Aksyonov said in televised comments. By early Thursday, the cold was expected to reach minus-31 or even lower.Twelve people died of exposure in the Novgorod region, northwest of Moscow, and two in the capital, the Interfax news agency said. In the Volgograd region, about 550 miles southeast of Moscow and less accustomed to such cold, 10 people died, ITAR-Tass reported.Over the previous day, electricity consumption nationwide hit 146,000 megawatts – a record high since the Soviet collapse 15 years ago, the head of national electricity monopoly RAO Unified Energy Systems, Anatoly Chubais, said in televised comments.In Moscow, where a construction boom is in full swing and the gray streets of the Soviet era have turned into glitzy thoroughfares festooned with bright lights, electricity consumption reached a record of more than 15,300 megawatts, RAO UES said.Chubais said electricity supplies to some industrial consumers would be limited but neither residential buildings nor essential facilities such as hospitals would be affected. The state-run TV station Rossiya reported that power shut off for some city billboards and construction sites.Traffic was light in the capital’s normally jammed streets because many motorists could not start their cars.The cold snap coincided with the Russian Orthodox holiday of the Epiphany, which falls on Thursday and which tradition says ushers in a cold period known as the Epiphany Frosts.Some particularly hardy Russians celebrate Epiphany by plunging into rivers and ponds to cleanse themselves with water deemed holy for the day. Authorities in one northern region, Khanty-Mansiisk, advised against the ritual this year, Channel One television reported.Vail, Colorado

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