Heavy snow has caused disruption across Europe, carpeting much of Italy to the south and Turkey to the east.

The freeze that has swept south through the continent has caused at least 70 deaths, mainly in Ukraine and Poland.

In central Italy, heavy goods lorries were barred from motorways and several top-flight football matches have fallen victim to the wintry conditions.

Schools and colleges in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, were shut on Wednesday because of the severe cold.

Similar closures were reported in northern Greece, where temperatures of -16C (3F) were recorded.

Several towns and cities in Bulgaria saw record lows, with -29C reported in Kneja in the north-east for the second day running. A 57-year-old man froze to death in a village in the north-west.

Seven more deaths were reported in Poland. Five of the victims were said to have been homeless.

German media reported that ice and sub-zero temperatures had led to the deaths of two women: a pedestrian froze after falling into a drainage ditch and a driver was killed when she lost control of her car on an icy road.

In Turkey, three crew-members from a ship that sank during a storm in the Black Sea were pulled out alive by coastguard near the north-western port of Eregli but eight others were missing.

The bulk carrier Vera, with a crew of 10 Ukrainians and a Georgian, had been carrying a cargo of scrap metal from Rostov in Russia to Izmir in western Turkey.

Snowfalls were recorded as far south as Corsica in the Mediterranean and southern Italy.

Rail services were reduced because of the wintry conditions. A one-year-old boy was fatally injured when his mother’s car went into a stream swollen by torrential rain.

Several football matches in Italy’s Serie A were postponed on Tuesday night and there were doubts that Wednesday’s clash between Inter Milan and Palermo would take place.

The cold snap, according to forecasters, is due to an area of high pressure that has extended across Europe from Siberia and is expected to reach its peak at the weekend.