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Deep freeze grips US Midwest, blamed for at least eight deaths

Cold 1


CHICAGO: A blast of icy polar air brought dangerously low temperatures to the U.S. Midwest , causing at least three more deaths while halting the mail and forcing residents who pride themselves on their winter hardiness to huddle indoors.

Classes were cancelled for students across the Midwest, including Chicago, home of the nation`s third-largest school system, and police warned of the risk of accidents on icy highways. Michigan said all state offices would remain closed through .

 

In a rare move, the U.S. Postal Service appeared to set aside its credo that “neither snow nor rain … nor gloom of night” would stop its work as it halted deliveries from parts of the Dakotas through Ohio.

At least eight deaths related to extreme cold weather have been reported since Saturday in Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, according to officials and media reports.

Illinois State Police officers rescued 21 people who were stranded in a charter bus that broke down in sub-zero temperatures along Interstate 55 near Auburn after the vehicle`s diesel fuel turned to gel in its engine, according to the agency.

In Detroit, a 70-year-old man was found dead on Wednesday on a residential street, a Detroit police spokeswoman said. About 15 miles (24 km) south in the community of Ecorse, a former city councilman in his 70s and dressed only in sleepwear was also found dead on Wednesday, police there said.

A University of Iowa student was found dead outside a building at the campus early on Wednesday, the school said in a statement. The death of Gerald Belz, a pre-med student, was believed to be weather-related.

Streets in Chicago were nearly empty, with few people walking outside in the painfully cold air as temperatures hovered around minus 18 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 28 Celsius).

“It`s terrible!” Pasquale Cappellano, a 68-year-old waiter, said as he smoked a cigarette while waiting outside for a bus on Chicago`s North Side. “I gotta pick up my medication at Walgreens or else I wouldn`t be out the door.”

In Minneapolis, chilled to minus 14 F (minus 26 C), Brian Pierce ventured out to “embrace the elements” and found himself watching cars slipping on the roads.

“The roads sound really weird, it seems there’s a lack of grip,” he said. “And my teeth hurt.”