The Latest: Vatican lets homeless sleep in church amid cold

The Latest on severe weather in Europe (all times local):

3:50 p.m.

The Vatican is letting homeless people sleep in a Rome church during a spell of unusually cold weather for the Italian capital.

In Rome lately, nighttime temperatures have dropped below freezing.

The Vatican say that around 30 people, Italians and foreigners, have accepted the invitation to sleep inside St. Calixtus church, whose foundations were laid near a well where Pope Calixtus I was martyred in 222.

Inside the church, which is Vatican property, the homeless are using sleeping bags or blankets. Since the stone interior of the church is cold itself, electric heaters have been placed on the floor.

Pope Francis has stressed helping those on society's margins. The Vatican has also let homeless people get warm in some of its vehicles parked near St. Peter's Square at night.


3:25 p.m.

British authorities have put the military on standby in the event of flooding along the east coast of Britain. Warnings have been issued.

Environment Agency national duty manager Mark Sitton-Kent says that "the combination of gale-force winds, high tides, dangerous waves carrying rocks and a coastal surge means parts of the east coast are extremely dangerous."

Snow has also hit parts of Britain.


12:50 p.m.

A hunter in Germany has put on show a block of ice containing a fox that he says fell into the chilly Danube and drowned, in what he calls a warning of the dangers of the icy river.

Franz Stehle has told news agency dpa that the block containing the fox was extracted from the ice on Jan. 2 and put on display outside his family's hotel in Fridingen. The town is on the upper reaches of the Danube, close to its source in southwestern Germany.

Stehle says that it's not unusual for animals to break through the frozen surface of the river in winter. He says he's seen a frozen deer and wild boar before.


11:50 a.m.

Violent overnight storms have hit northern France injuring scores and leaving 200,000 homes without electricity.

Strong winds caused havoc for some rail passengers who were stranded overnight Thursday to Friday in a high-speed Thalys train after a tree was blown onto the tracks.

The 210 passengers spent the night without electricity, heating and liquids in the train that was travelling from Brussels to Paris. The track has now been cleared.

France's Interior Ministry said Friday that about 46 people were injured overnight in weather-related accidents, although none seriously and it reported no deaths.

Authorities said areas worst hit included Normandy and Picardy where respectively 76,000 homes and 61,000 homes were without electricity Friday — and that emergency services were called out 4,041 times to deal with the storms' impact.