Snow, ice cause travel chaos across Europe

AFP , Monday 21 Jan 2013

Travel disrupted across Europe due to heavy snow and arctic weather conditions

A father is seen pulling his son along on a sledge in the heavy snow in Stanley, England, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. (AP Photo)

Roads, railways and air travel across much of Europe were plunged into chaos Monday as heavy snow and arctic weather conditions gripped the continent.

Disruptions in air travel were particularly severe, with the cancellation of more than a quarter of all flights at Frankfurt airport, Germany's busiest, and one in 10 flights at London's Heathrow airport, Europe's busiest, following even more widespread cancellations the day before.

And air travellers faced long delays and disruptions at other airports across Germany and in France and Britain as well.

In Frankfurt, Europe's third-busiest airport, 325 take-offs and landings were cancelled Monday, a spokesman for operator Fraport told AFP.

In Munich, Germany's number two airport, some 161 flights -- or more than 15 percent -- were cancelled.

In France, the civil aviation authority DGAC said it expected to cancel 40 percent of flights from and to Paris's Orly and Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airports in a preventive measure following heavy snowfall on Sunday.

However, snow was no longer falling at either airport and the cleared runways were able to handle the reduced volume of traffic, noted a spokeswoman for Aeroports de Paris (ADP).

In Spain, flights bound for Paris, Munich and Frankfurt were hit, leading to the cancellation of 16 flights to and from Barcelona.

Freezing rain and snow also led to treacherous conditions on railways and roads, causing countless accidents.

In the southwest of Germany, police recorded more than 1,000 weather-related accidents and in the northeast of the country, near Berlin, an entire section of motorway was shut to traffic.

In Beglium, three people died and two others were seriously injured when a mini-bus they were travelling in skidded off the road, overturned and caught fire at a motorway exit near Bruges, local authorities said.

In Britain, hundreds of schools remained shut due to the severe winter weather.

In Moscow, unusually heavy snowfall of almost 50 centimetres (20 inches) in Moscow caused traffic jams but did not affect flights at city airports, which are well equipped for snowstorms.

The snowfall over the last four days in Moscow exceeded the average for the whole month of January, Moscow Deputy Mayor Pyotr Biryukov said.

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