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Europe

Europeans' Christmas plans hit by winter weather chaos

Freezing conditions have caused massive travel delays around Europe on Christmas Day, with thousands still stranded at major hubs such as Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

A man carrying a suitcase on a snowed-in street

The snow made it tough to travel around Europe

Snowy weather and freezing temperatures continued to wreak havoc on thousands of travelers in Europe on Saturday, December 25, with many being forced to spend Christmas at crowded airports.

Two travelers stuck at Paris' main airport

Hundreds of flights were cancelled around Europe

Around 400 flights in and out of Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle Airport in Paris were scrapped late on Friday, with thousands of travelers’ Christmas Day plans disrupted by the cancellations and delays.

"Since Roissy came into being, we’ve never seen anything like this," said Pierre Graff, who heads Aeroports de Paris, which runs Charles de Gaulle.

Officials said they laid out about 700 army-style folding beds and blankets for stranded passengers. They admitted earlier in the week that the airport did not have enough glycol, the liquid used to de-ice planes. The problem was exacerbated by a workers' strike at France's main anti-freeze factory at Fos-sur-Mer.

Belgium's main airport in Brussels was hard-hit by snowfall, with spokesman Jan Van der Cruysse saying the airport was open to limited incoming traffic and that departing flights were proceeding at a slow pace.

"We have already organized hundreds of beds with the Belgian army and Red Cross so that people don't have to sleep on the floor," he said. "It is going to be a difficult night."

More snow to come

A plane is de-iced at Minneapolis St Paul Airport

The liquid needed to de-ice planes seems to be in short supply

In Germany, train services between Berlin and Hanover were stopped by freezing conditions in the early hours of Friday, while Dusseldorf Airport was running at 50-percent capacity for much of the day.

German weather forecasters are predicting more heavy snowfall and icy conditions to hit southern and central parts of the country on Saturday.

"A white Christmas is 100-percent certain," said Karl-Heinz Nottrodt from the German Weather Service.

Snow and ice has caused significant disruption on Germany's roads. More than 1,000 road accidents directly related to the weather conditions were reported on Thursday. Twelve people were seriously injured, and 50 more received slight injury from traffic incidents.

Europe's busiest airport, London Heathrow, managed to operate at near-complete capacity on Friday after days of prior chaos. Airport authority BAA announced that it would be launching an inquiry into the airport's handling of the weather conditions, which had left thousands of passengers stranded for several days.

Authors: Darren Mara (AFP, Reuters, dpa)
Editor: Toma Tasovac

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