Rome

Snow, freezing cold hammer central and southern Italy

Schools and public offices close, body found in burned camper

Snow, freezing cold hammer central and southern Italy

Rome, December 10 - Southern and central Italy was in the grip of sub-zero temperatures and snowstorms Monday which caused schools and courts to close as well as forcing the evacuation of a hotel in Sicily. During the night, temperatures in parts of Italy's central regions went well below freezing, dropping as low as -9 in the Gran Sasso natural park in the Abruzzo region, and heavy snow fell on towns including earthquake-stricken Aquila. In the Gran Sasso, a coat of some 20cm of snow on Sunday piled on top of the 50cm already accumulated the previous day. Due to the freezing conditions, schools in some towns in Puglia were closed Monday as roads were frozen and some building temperatures were too cold. Meanwhile, off the coast of Sicily operations were underway Monday to recuperate at least two trucks and a few containers which fell off a ship on Sunday after the vessel reported being hit by a large wave. Heavy snows on Mount Etna forced the helicopter evacuation of some 50 guests stranded in a hotel on the volcano's slope. Further north, in Prato, near Florence, a judge Monday ordered a case be transferred to another building because temperatures inside the courthouse were too low. Also in Prato, the body of an unidentified man was found in a burned-out camper. Firemen suspect he was homeless and seeking refuge from the freezing cold, lighting a fire that went out of control.

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