Observers say damaged infrastructure in eastern Ukraine could leave thousands cold in winter

The Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe is raising the alarm about a potential breakdown of central heating systems across war-torn eastern Ukraine.

A military conflict there has killed over 8,000 people and damaged crucial infrastructure including water works.

The OSCE said in a report released Friday that water shortages in the conflict-affected areas "could leave civilians bitterly cold throughout the coming winter" as central heating systems there rely on water. The group said the situation is particularly deplorable since the infrastructure there badly needed repairs even before the war began and hostilities have prevented further repair works.

The latest cease-fire has largely held since it was announced Sept. 1, and leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France are meeting in Paris next month to discuss a political settlement.