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Fourth death in France as Europe's big chill nears end
A fourth person was found dead in France on Tuesday as the cold spell that has hit Europe reached its peak. Snow fell on Provence and parts of the Pyrenees, leading the authorities to warn of the danger of black ice.
A delivery worker found the body of a 90-year-old woman in front of the entrance of the retirement home where she lived in Belley in the east of the country on Tuesday.
Three other people, two of them homeless and one who lived in a shack in a forest, have died from the cold since last Friday in France, while the big freeze has claimed at least 24 lives across Europe.
Urban Affairs Minister Julien Denormandie on Tuesday evening announced that 72 of the 96 départements in mainland France were on extreme cold alert, up from 68, and that an extra 5,647 places in homeless shelters had been opened, 1,926 in Paris.
Denormandie sparked an indignant reaction last month with a claim that there were only about 50 rough sleepers in the Paris region.
About 50 politicians have decided to spend Wednesday night on the streets of the capital to denounce his "denial of dignity" to the homeless and demand better facilities for them.
Snow fell in the south-east and Corsica on Tuesday, with the city of Ajaccio covered in white for the first time since 1986 and flights cancelled from Ajaccio and Figari airports.
Temperatures were expected to rise on Wednesday but remain at between -6.0°C and -12.0°C in the north-west.
A "sharp change" is forecast for the weekend, when "spring-like" weather is expected.