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Italy announces emergency plan to deal with cold snap

(Xinhua)

09:17, February 08, 2012

ROME, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- Italy has announced emergency measures to conserve gas supplies as an extraordinary wave of cold weather hit the country, local media said on Tuesday.

As supplies from Russia fell short in Western Europe, Italy ,one of the worst affected , could have some industrial consumers supplies cut off to protect domestic users from shortages in the next days, while some power stations may have to switch from gas to oil, the authorities announced.

The CEO of energy giant Eni Paolo Scaroni told Rai state television that, under the emergency plan, Italy has also reacted by increasing imports from Algeria and from Northern Europe via Switzerland.

"The interruption of gas supplies could be a problem as many companies would be penalized .. the situation risks to become critical," Emma Marcegaglia, the head of industrial employers' association Confindustria, was quoted by local media as saying.

Temperatures over the past days have dropped to their lowest levels in years, with Rome recording the heaviest snowfall since 1985 and Milan hitting -10C.

The Siberian cold reportedly claimed at least 25 lives in the country, many of them being clochards found frozen to death.

The last victim reported on Tuesday was an elderly man who died after slipping on ice while he was cleaning the road in front of his house near the northern town of Sondrio.

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