SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Bosnia used helicopters on Sunday to evacuate the sick and deliver food to thousands of people left stranded by its heaviest snowfall ever, while Pope Benedict XVI donned an overcoat to bless the few pilgrims who visit St. Peter's Square in Rome's unusually cold weather.
"The snow is beautiful, but let's hope spring comes soon," the pope told the pilgrims, looking out over remnants of Rome's biggest snowstorm since 1986.
Across Eastern Europe, thousands of people continued to dig out from heavy snow that has fallen during a cold snap that struck more than a week ago and has killed hundreds of people.
In Ukraine, the hardest hit area, temperatures have fallen as low as minus 33 Fahrenheit. The government said Sunday the country's death toll now stands at 131, including many homeless people. About 2,300 other Ukrainians have sought treatment for frostbite or hypothermia.
Officials have put the death toll in Europe at more than 280.
At the other end of Europe, Britain had its first snowfall of the winter on Saturday — up to 6.3 inches — forcing London's Heathrow Airport to cancel flights and stranding many drivers overnight on highways.
Still, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, attended a service at West Newton church on her Sandringham Estate in eastern England on Sunday.
The 85-year-old monarch marks 60 years on the throne today, and her Diamond Jubilee anniversary will be marked by a series of regional, national and international events in 2012.
In Bosnia, more than 100 remote villages have been cut off by 61/2 feet of snow in the mountains. More than 3 feet fell in Sarajevo, the capital, where a state of emergency has been declared. Three helicopters cruised over eastern Bosnia Sunday, delivering food and picking up people who needed evacuation.
In neighboring Serbia, the government introduced emergency measures in the entire country Sunday to better help 70,000 people cut off by the snow. In Montenegro, the north of the country remained cut off, although emergency crews have managed to clear some of the blocked roads.