Snow fell in Rome on saturday for the first time in 26 years as freezing temperatures took the death toll across Europe to more than 150.

The Italian capital is usually blessed by a moderate climate but the snowfall prompted authorities stop visitors from entering the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, the former home of Rome’s ancient emperors.

The last substantial snowfalls in Rome were in 1985 and 1986, though there have been other cases of lighter snow since then, including in 2010.

The director of the Colosseum, Rossella Rea, said the sites were closed out of fears that visitors could slip on ice. .

Snow began falling in the late morning Friday, leaving a light dusting on trees and cars and forming slush on the roads. It wasn’t clear if there would be any significant accumulation on the ground.

The north of the country has also been gripped by snow and ice that is disrupting train travel.Temperatures plunged as low as minus 22 Celsius (minus 7 Fahrenheit), in Trepalle, a village in the Italian Alps.

Snow in Rome came as the death toll across Europe reached 150. Temperatures have plummeted as low as -36c in parts of Ukraine and Siberia.

In Serbia, at least 11,000 villagers are stranded in their homes by heavy snow and blizzards which have hit remote areas that cannot be reached due to icy, snow-clogged roads.

The worst weather is near Serbia’s southwestern town of Sijenica, where it has been freezing cold or snowing for 26 days, and diesel fuel supplies used by snowploughs are running low.

Thirty-eight more people have died overnight as freezing weather grips Ukraine, authorities say. The death toll there from the past week is now 101.

The Emergency Situations Ministry in Ukraine said more than 1,200 other people have been treated in hospital for hypothermia and frostbite as temperatures in some parts of the country sank to -32C (-26F).

Authorities have closed schools and colleges and set up nearly 3,000 heating and food shelters across the country. Health officials instructed hospitals not to discharge homeless patients, even after treatment is finished, to save them from the cold.

Experts said the high death toll reflects the country’s inability to deal with the homeless. There have been dozens of death elsewhere in Eastern Europe with thousands of villagers trapped by heavy snow and blizzards in Serbia.

Snow fell across large parts of the UK, with two inches covering Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk in white, while in the Pennines, fences and phone masts resembled ice sculptures.



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