Unusually cold weather has smashed decades-old records in Saudi Arabia, with meteorologists forecasting a further cooling, the al-Watan newspaper said on Wednesday.

The cold snap has mainly hit northern parts of the country, where temperatures reached a record low of -6 degree Centigrade (21.2 degree Fahrenheit), freezing water in pipes and closing schools and other facilities. Local authorities had to ration kerosene due to an acute shortage of fuel for heating purposes.

King Abdullah ordered the distribution of blankets and heaters to his freezing subjects.

Cold has already begun to take a toll on Saudis, with a 40-year-old worker of Asian origin reported to have died of hypothermia in the al-Kasim district of Riyadh, where the temperature has dropped to zero degrees Celsius (32 degree Fahrenheit).