Italy gripped by ice and snow

Centre and south bear the brunt

(ANSA) - Rome, January 18 - Civil protection authorities issued a fresh weather alert for southern regions on Monday as much of Italy remained in the grips of heavy ice and snow.
    "In the next few hours a low-pressure area arriving from the Atlantic will hit Sardinia before extending across southern regions during the day tomorrow, with rain and snowfall at low altitude and stronger winds," the warning said. Rain and snow were forecast in Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily in particular. The civil protection department also issued a yellow warning for localised hydrogeological and hydraulic risk in Sicily, Calabria, Molise, much of Puglia and parts of Abruzzo. Central and southern regions have born the brunt of the recent cold snap, with temperatures dipping to -18 degrees Celsius in some places. Schools remained closed on Monday in dozens of municipalities in the central Abruzzo region including the coastal city of Pescara due to heavy snowfall.
    Similar conditions were reported in neighbouring Molise, where the situation was compounded by an ongoing earthquake swarm that began last week. Instead the sun shone on the central Marche region but roads remained dangerous due to ice. In Sicily strong north-westerly winds caused disruptions to ferry and hovercraft connections between the northern port town of Milazzo and the Aeolian islands, where snow was reported on Stromboli, Salina and Lipari. On Saturday night a woman in her final month of pregnancy had to be airlifted from Lipari to Milazzo after going into labour. In the southern Campania region schools were closed in the province of Salerno, while in the provinces of Avellino and Benevento farmers belonging to the association Coldiretti rallied their tractors to help clear snow from roads. Meteorologists said the icy weather would last at least until the end of the week. The cold hasn't spared northern regions either: in Tuscany municipal civil protection officers in Florence told citizens to brace for freezing temperatures Tuesday.
    Elderly people were advised to take special care and only go outdoors in the morning, while the homeless were reminded that shelter was available for them.
    Likewise municipal authorities in Rome were offering shelter, food, a shower service and a change of clothes to the homeless and needy under its 2015-2016 winter plan. To access the service prospective users must first call the city council's social operations room on the freephone number 800.440.022.
    This is also the number to call to alert the authorities to people in need.