ROME, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- At least eight people died in Italy, as a wave of cold kept sweeping the country with freezing temperatures and heavy snowfalls on Monday.
An 85-year-old woman was found suffering from severe hypothermia in her home, and later died in hospital, in the province of Chieti, in the central Abruzzo region, where temperatures reached minus 10 degrees Celsius during Sunday night, local media reported.
A pensioner had been found dead in the northern city of Monza on Sunday. The 81-year-old man, reportedly suffering from Alzheimer, had left his home the previous day wearing only a jumper, according to Ansa news agency.
Six homeless people also lost their lives across the country over the weekend, with first evidences suggesting they all died from frostbite and hypothermia.
Italy's southern regions, which are used to a much milder winter, were hit particularly hard by the icy weather.
Many schools there remained closed on Monday, and the situation was reportedly critical especially in the southeast Pulia region, where some hospitals remained isolated due to heavy snow in the province of Bari, according to La Repubblica daily.
Freezing temperatures were also registered in the Calabria and Sicily regions, where some airports were closed over the weekend.
In central and southern Italy, the agriculture sector suffered damages worth at least 700 million euros (some 739 million U.S. dollars), the Italian Farmers Confederation (CIA) said on Monday.
Italy Minister of Agriculture Maurizio Martina said the government was ready to declare the state of emergency, as soon as the regions submitted their request for the special provision.
Below-zero temperatures were also seen in Rome, yet the cold weather did not bring about specific disruption here.
Shelters for homeless in the capital stayed opened day and night to offer accommodation to those in need, and some metro stations were also left open during the night in order to host rough sleepers.
The cold weather alert would remain high on Monday night and on Tuesday at least, the Italian Civil Protection Department said.
Further snowfalls were forecast in the central and southern regions, and below-zero temperatures would gradually grip Liguria, Lombardy, and Veneto in the north, the agency warned.