Passengers evacuated from channel tunnel as cold snap hits Europe | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 19.12.2009
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Passengers evacuated from channel tunnel as cold snap hits Europe

More than 2,000 passengers were stuck under the English Channel after sub-zero temperatures caused Eurotunnel trains to break down. Icy weather has thrown travel plans across Europe into chaos and has even claimed lives.

A snowy motorway scene in Hamburg

A cold snap brought transport chaos to Europe.

Four Eurostar trains carrying more than 2,000 people were stranded between England and France as services ground to a halt in freezing conditions.

Up to 1,300 passengers from two of the trains had to be evacuated on a vehicle shuttle as winter brought transport chaos to Europe. The remaining passengers waited for carriages to be pushed out of the tunnel by a rescue train.

A difference in temperatures between cold air inside the tunnel and outside had forced the breakdown, according to train operator Eurostar.

The situation affecting the world's longest undersea rail connection was described as "unprecedented" by the company.

Eurostar cancelled all services on Saturday morning, and said that services would be affected into Sunday.

"We strongly recommend that travellers whose journey is not essential change their tickets for travel on a later date or have their tickets refunded," the company said. Services are expected to be back to normal on Monday.

Weather claimed lives

The cold snap has also claimed lives. German police said on Saturday that icy roads had led to the death of a driver and passenger in Schleswig Holstein, with numerous road accidents in other parts of the country.

French authorities said that one man living near to Paris and another in central France had died from hypothermia.

On Friday, flights to London's Gatwick and Luton airports had to be diverted to regional airports as heavy snow fell in southern England.

The weather caused disruption in Paris, delaying flights at Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports. Dozens of flights were also cancelled at Brussels airport, with ice on runways.

The weather also caused rail delays, with trains on France's high-speed TGV network forced to travel at lower speeds.

Further East, Romania was also hit by snow that caused power blackouts in some areas of the country. Flights at Bucharest airport were delayed, with many train services from the city cancelled.


rc/dpa/AFP
Editor: Andreas Illmer

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