At least 160 people have died as a cold snap continues to grip Europe. Countries from Italy to Ukraine are struggling to cope with temperatures that plunged to record lows in some places.

Nine more people died in Poland overnight as temperatures hit -32C in the southwest, bringing the overall toll to 29 since the deep freeze began last week, national police said.

In Ukraine, tens of thousands of people headed to shelters trying to escape the freeze that the emergencies ministry said has now claimed the lives of 63 people.

Eight people died in Romania overnight because of the cold, bringing the overall toll to 22, the health ministry said.

Schools remained closed in some parts of the country as temperatures reached -31C.

In Bulgaria, where the mercury dipped to lows not seen in a century, at least 10 people have died, according to media.

With parts of the Danube freezing, authorities moved some vessels to ports further away to protect them from the advancing ice.

In the capital Sofia, some residents found their money frozen as ATMs stopped functioning, according to local media.

In Latvia, 10 people have died around the capital Riga alone, with no figures available for the rest of the country.

In neighbouring Lithuania a 55-year-old homeless man found in the ruins of an abandoned house in the port city of Klaipeda became the ninth victim of the chill.

In Italy, hundreds of people were trapped overnight on trains as freezing temperatures and heavy snowfalls in the centre and north caused widespread chaos on roads, railways and at airports.

The cold has so far killed an infant in Sicily and a 76-year-old pensioner in Parma during what forecasters say is the coldest weather in the country in 27 years.

In Austria, an 83-year-old woman was found frozen to death in the woods after apparently slipping on her daily walk and not managing to get up again.

In Serbia, the cold has killed seven people and trapped some 11,500 others, mostly in remote mountain villages inaccessible by road.

In Belgrade, homeless people unable to secure one of the 140 spots in the capital's sole shelter took refuge in trolley buses and trams.

"Most of the drivers let them stay in the vehicle if they stay in the back part and do not disturb the trip," a company official told the Blic daily. "There are significantly more homeless people in public transport when it is so cold outside."

In neighbouring Bosnia, several remote hamlets in the east of the country were cut off, and authorities were monitoring if further airdrops were required after two helicopters were mobilised on Tuesday and yesterday to bring food and other supplies.

The freeze has also claimed lives in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Greece.

In France, where 28 of 101 regions were placed under "deep cold" watch, authorities banned trucks on several major highways where the risk of snowfall and ice remained high.