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Cold killing thousands of Britons

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Cold weather in the last week has probably killed more than 2,500 people in England and Wales, health forecasters say.

The BBC said research published Tuesday by the Faculty of Public Health and the Meteorological Office shows they will have died from treatable ailments.

The study says a higher proportion of the U.K.'s population dies as a result of the cold than in either Finland or Russia.

Most are caused by heart or breathing problems brought on by the cold and damp.

Sian Griffiths, president of the Faculty of Public Health, said as many as 50,000 people could die unnecessarily in Britain this winter.

The U.K. remains one of the worst countries in the world at coping with unseasonal low temperatures, she said.

Although the government has shown commitment to tackling the problem, it has not given sufficient priority to such an important public health issue and its approach remains far too uncoordinated.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International

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