Ukrainian health officials say 37 people have died from the severe cold spell that hit the country this month.

Temperatures have dropped as low as –17 C.

The Health Ministry said Tuesday that 190 people have sought medical help for hypothermia, of which 162 people have been hospitalized.

No health official would say how the deaths occurred, but victims in previous cold spells have been mostly the homeless and elderly people. Authorities have set up some 1,500 centres around the country to provide food and shelter.

The cold weather comes as heavy snowfall in the eastern European nation blocked key roads, leaving hundreds of cars stranded.

People in eastern Europe experienced a weeklong cold snap last February, the worst in decades, especially in countries such as Ukraine. The deep freeze was blamed for the deaths of more than 100 people, many of them homeless.