Hungary: Villagers scavenging for coal with their bare hands, in Europe’s big chill

Villagers scramble for fuel in Europe’s big chill
February 2, 2012

FARKASLYUK, Hungary- Hungarian villagers were scavenging for coal with their bare hands on Thursday as a blast of Siberian air killed scores in Eastern Europe and looked set to keep its icy grip on the continent for another week.

At least 139 people have died across Eastern Europe and Germany since the cold snap began, interrupting what had been an unusually mild European winter.

In the Hungarian village of Farkaslyuk, people clambered up a 30-metre spoil heap from a disused mine to scrape together enough coal to heat their homes and cook for a few days.

“This saves us from going to prison,” said Jozsef Bari, a Roma and father of three who used to work in the mine, standing in a three-metre-deep pit dug in the slag heap.

“If we had not had this, we could all go to steal wood (in the forest), and then we would all be chased (by police).”

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