The Hungarian Central Bank is issuing stacks of old currency notes to its impoverished citizens across the country, so as to allow its citizens to burn the notes in order to keep warm during one of Europe’s deadliest cold snaps. For the past four years, the Hungarian government has been recycling nearly $1 billion worth of unusable notes into briquettes, which are then sent to several charities as a form of heating fuel. According to AFP, the donation help save charities nearly 50,000 to 60,000 forints ($238-$265) a month in electricity bills, which is a "considerable sum in this time of crisis," said Krisztina Haraszti, the head of a centre for autistic children in the impoverished northeastern town of Miskolc.WATCH: Hungarians Burning Through Their Cash.
"It's a very useful charitable act, a vital aid for our foundation because we can save part of our heating costs," added Haraszt, whose centre has received nearly four tonnes of compressed old notes from the Hungarian Central Bank every month since September.In addition, examinations done by the central bank's cash logistics centre discovered that the heating properties of the shredded currency briquettes were similar to those brown coal – meaning that they were essentially a like-for-like substitute and could be used in boilers that use mixed fuel as well. According to The Telegraph, the notes were simply burnt in the past. But the cash logistic centre decided to invest in a machine that could allow them to compress the notes into briquettes for better heating efficiency. "For the central bank, corporate social responsibility is an important thing,” said Barnabas Ferenczi, the head of the cash logistics centre.
“That's why we thought that since we destroy approximately 40 or 50 tons of currency every year, this thing can be useful for charities that have a problem finding fuel for burning."Every year, the central bank takes a quarter of its notes out of circulation and print new money to replace the unusable and old currency. The old notes are then converted into briquettes under a tight security procedure, where the people working on the process are made to wear pocket-less clothes. The institutions are chosen they make bids for the briquettes. This year, some 20 organisations made a pitch. The central bank then issues the briquettes to chosen institutions, which must make a pitch in order to receive the notes. The central bank only has one criterion: that the organisations chosen have no public debt. - Economy Watch.
Europe's Danube freezes over, cold snap toll at 460.
Meanwhile, thick ice closed vast swathes of the Danube on Thursday, crippling shipping on Europe's busiest waterway, as the death toll from bitter cold across the continent rose to at least 460.
As it has every day for nearly two weeks, the brutal cold claimed lives in several countries and killed dozens more in weather-related accidents. The 2,860-kilometre Danube, which flows through 10 countries and is vital for transport, power, irrigation, industry and fishing, was wholly or partially blocked from Austria to its mouth on the Black Sea. Navigation was impossible or restricted in Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria, as ice covered the river or formed dangerous floes in shipping lanes. An official from the Serbian economy ministry yesterday said the commercial repercussions "could be very bad", while Infrastructure Ministry official Pavle Galico said shipping would not resume for 10 days. Bulgarian authorities, who have banned all navigation on the river, reported 224 vessels stuck in ports, and Ukrainian rescuers in Croatia reached three crew members on a ship trapped in the ice since last Friday.
Temperatures in Bulgaria dropped to a new record low on Thursday of minus 28.6 degrees Celsius in the northwestern town of Vidin. The country has halted all power exports due to the cold snap. So far, 28 people have been killed in Bulgaria as a result of the weather, including eight who drowned when the icy waters of a small dam swept through their village of Biser in the southeast. Serbian railways, meanwhile, said the famed Balkan Express train that runs from Belgrade to Istanbul would only go as far as Sofia for now because of the flooding in Bulgaria. In the Czech Republic, another homeless man froze to death in Kolin, bringing the country's toll to 25, and forecasters said temperatures could plunge to minus 40 Celsius in the mountains and minus 25 Celsius in Prague on Saturday night. Another blast of freezing weather was also predicted for Italy, even as soldiers worked to free villages trapped in three metres of snow and with the death toll from the cold snap already at 43. Forecasts said freezing winds would pick up and bring more snow today and tomorrow to Rome, just recovering from its biggest snowfall in decades. - Zee News.
NOTE: Special thanks to Jacqui Chasson for contributing to this post.