Europe yet to recover from late-winter snows | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 13.03.2013
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Europe yet to recover from late-winter snows

Western Europe's late-winter snowstorm continues to cripple aviation, rail and road services. The worst hit region is northern France. At Frankfurt Airport waiting passengers camped on stretchers overnight.

Weather services across Europe, including Meteo France, reported that "remarkably" late snowfalls so close to spring's official start meant further alerts and subzero temperatures.

German meteorologists said the winter snap that first dumped snow across northern Germany last Saturday would sustain icy conditions nationwide until next weekend.

Across northern France 80,000 homes were without power overnight Tuesday. Schools were closed. Hundreds of motorists were stranded in cars. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault sent soldiers to help restore electricity.

Further 'disturbances'

Rail operators Eurostar and Thalys warned travelers to expect further "disturbances" through Wednesday.

Eurostar's online message said: "Severe weather conditions in Northern France and Belgium have led to disruption of the high-speed line."

For Wednesday, Frankfurt Airport operator Fraport warned of further cancellations and delays after a two-hour runway closure late on Tuesday.

Snowfalls had prompted 800 flight cancellations on Tuesday, mostly domestic and European flights. Fraport opted to keep long-distance, inter-continental flights running.

An estimated 2,500 to 3,000 passengers had spent the night at the airport on temporary beds, according to a Fraport spokesman.

More delays expected

Wednesday began with more cancellations and delays, with 82 flights affected. "There will certainly be more," the Fraport spokesman said.

The two main airports serving Paris, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, had canceled a quarter of their flights Tuesday.

In the central German state of Hesse, emergency crews continued to recover vehicles after a mass pile-up near the town of Wölfersheim closed the A45 motorway.

"In particular the recovery of trucks will take a while," a police spokesman said.

Thirty motorists were injured, six severely. Other motorists whose vehicles were trapped in the resulting tailback were accommodated in local halls.

Transport was also hampered in Belgium and the Netherlands.

"That was too much snow at the wrong time," said Danny Smagghe, a spokesman for the Belgian road rescue service Touring.

'When it snows heavily at night, salt (on the roads) doesn't function, because there are too few cars to spread it out," Smagghe said.

In southern England, emergency services personnel spent hours getting to motorists injured in car accidents because snow and icy winds made the streets difficult or impossible to drive on.

ipj/jlw (dpa, Reuters, AFP)