A cold snap has killed 738 people in Ukraine over the last three weeks, says the Health Ministry of Ukraine on Monday, News24 reported.

Health Ministry Polyachenko said that the deaths took place between January 16 and February 5, a period which saw temperatures plunge to record-breaking lows.

It said the majority of those who died were homeless and intoxicated people.

More than 7500 people were taken to hospital across this ex-Soviet nation of 47 million during the same period.

At the end of January, the mercury began to rise to more normal winter levels.

But, the cold wave returned to Ukraine on Sunday and many parents left their children home on Monday, not allowing them to go to schools or kindergartens.

Forecasts said the low temperatures were expected to last for several days. The cold had severely strained Ukraine's crumbling infrastructure.

Electricity and gas use surged to record levels as towns and cities struggled to keep indoor temperatures up.

Some buildings had been left without heat or electricity.


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