Severe snow causes chaos in Europe

Freezing conditions continue across continent hitting schools and transport links.

    The UK has been hit by its longest cold snap for almost 30 years, with no immediate respite forecast [AFP]

    Homeless deaths

    Jonah Hull, Al Jazeera's correspondent in London, said: "Forecasters are saying that if the temperatures continue to drop [in the UK] for much longer we could be seeing the coldest winter in 100 years.

    "The drop in temperatures have been seen across large parts of the north of the continent certainly, not so much in the south.

    "Poland, Switzerland, Austria, countries in the Alps have suffered serious avalanches, lots of skiers have been lost since New Year and many pensioners, and particularly homeless people, have died since New Year, well over 100 in Poland alone."

    Poor weather in Poland was also impairing travel as flights were halted and streets were snowed under.

    At Wroclaw airport, in the southwest, flights were delayed because of the fog, while strong frost caused difficulties on the Vistula river near Plock in central Poland.

    In the east of the country, a state of emergency was declared after the river Bug burst its banks, cutting off the village of Buzyska.

    The road leading to the village was flooded with water which then froze.

    Icy temperatures 

    Germany also continued to suffer from severe winter weather, with icy temperatures and snow affecting most parts of the country.

    Airports across the continent have been affected by the severe weather [AFP]

    In the northern city of Hanover, firefighters removed giant icicles from roofs and window ledges to protect people walking below.

    In the area around Kassel, in central Germany, salting lorries were out in force to clear ice and snow from the roads.

    Ice breakers were needed in Hamburg to clear a path through the frozen water on the Alster lake.

    Planes had to be de-iced at Dusseldorf airport, but there were no reports of any major flight traffic disruptions, German broadcaster RTL reported.

    Temperatures as low as minus 20C are expected over the next few nights, according to meteorologists from the German Weather Service.

    Bodies found  

    Rescue officials in Switzerland said the bodies of three skiers missing after an avalanche in the centre of the country have been found, raising to seven the death toll in the country's worst avalanche disaster in more than a decade.

    The bodies of a Swiss woman, a Swiss man and a German man were found in the Diemtig Valley, 40km south of the capital, Bern, the Swiss air rescue service Rega said.

    The victims were part of a group of off-piste skiers who were hit by an avalanche shortly before midday on Sunday, burying two.

    The start of the ski season and heavy snowfall in recent days have prompted officials to warn of a heightened avalanche risk in the Swiss Alps.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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