by Staff Writers
Rome (AFP) Feb 7, 2012
Italy was set to hold emergency talks on Tuesday aimed at maximising gas supplies to vulnerable households as the cold snap tightened its grip on the country and the death toll rose to 26.
Life in the centre of Rome returned to normal after days of chaos in the wake of the heaviest snowfall in 27 years, but schools remained closed and thousands in the surrounding region were still without electricity or heating.
Snow continued to fall in the north of Italy, with temperatures dropping to minus 25 degrees Celsius (minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit) in Marcesina on the shores of Lake Garda, and black ice in Calabria and Sardegna in the south.
A 68-year-old lorry driver from Bologna, who froze to death in his vehicle after sleeping in it, was found on Monday. The bodies of a pensioner and a homeless Moldovan woman were also discovered several days after they died.
In the town of L'Aquila, devastated by an earthquake in 2009, snowed-in residents warned of food shortages and wolves scavenged in the white, deserted streets of the nearby town of Trasacco, the Corriere della Sera daily said.
The economic development ministry activated a plan Monday to reduce gas supplies to industrial clients and switch from gas to oil-fired power stations amid fears of another cold wave in Russia which could limit supplies to Italy.
"The situation is certainly critical because the flows from Russia and France have diminished but the situation is being monitored," Economic Development Minister Corrado Passera told reporters.
Energy policy expert and former minister Alberto Clo' told Il Mattino newspaper: "There is no need to panic, Italy will not run out of gas."
"There won't be any scenes like The Day After Tomorrow," he said, in reference to the 2004 apocalyptic film about a modern-day ice age.
"After a mild winter and with industry running at low capacity, we haven't drawn very much yet from our reserves," he said.
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Commercial traffic resumes on Shatt al-Arab
Al-Nashwa, Iraq (AFP) Feb 7, 2012
Commercial traffic has resumed on the strategic Shatt al-Arab waterway after 31 years, with the official opening of a port for oil giant Shell, an Iraqi official said on Tuesday. Part of the 200 kilometre (120 mile) long waterway forms a section of the border with Iran. An unresolved boundary dispute was a major reason cited by now-executed dictator Saddam Hussein for the 1980-88 war with Ir ... read more