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Snowman causes chaos on train line

Kate Brady
January 12, 2017

As bad weather continues to bear down on Europe, a snowman caused panic on a train line in Wesenberg, northern Germany. Several deaths have been reported across the continent due to sub-zero temperatures.

Deutschland Winter Neuschnee in Sachsen
Image: picture alliance/dpa/A. Burgi

German police reported late on Wednesday that a train traveling between Wesenberg and Mirow in the northern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania was forced to carry out an emergency stop as the driver bore down on a snowman built on the tracks. 

Unable to distinguish whether it was a person or a snowman, the driver quickly stepped on the brake, resulting in some 5,000 euros ($5,300) worth of damage on the vehicle's braking system. No one was injured in the incident.

The snowman was reportedly built by three unknown suspects at around 5:45 p.m. local time (1645 UTC) on Wednesday.

Snow in Straubing, Bavaria
Some parts of German have been able to enjoy scenic views such as here in Straubing, BavariaImage: picture alliance/dpa/A. Weigel

Fatal ice

Snow and ice have continued to plague wide parts of Germany this week. In the port city of Hamburg, emergency services were dealing with a huge flood as St. Pauli's fish market stood under some 2.11 meters (6.9 feet) of water.

In the southern stae of Bavaria, icy roads proved to be fatal when a truck driver was trapped by the cabin of his HGV after it jackknifed.

Road traffic accidents were also reported during the night in the states of Brandenburg, Saxony - most of which only involved damage to vehicles.  In eastern Saxony, the police blocked a few smaller streets due to snow drifts.

After a short relief in some corners of Germany, snow and ice is expected to keep the country on its toes in coming days, with temperatures due to return to below freezing.

More than 70 deaths across Europe

Eastern Europe has seen even more treacherous weather with reports of travel delays, power outages and sub-zero temperatures - leaving the homeless and migrants most at risk. The recent cold snap has now been blamed for at least 73 deaths across the entire continent.

In Bulgaria, much of the north and east of the country was paralyzed when snowdrifts blocked roads and left 117 towns and villages without electricity. The main highway linking the capital Sofia with the Black Sea port of Burgas was also closed.

Bulgaria's energy ministry said it had turned down emergency requests for power from neighbors Greece and Turkey to avoid the possibility of having to ration electricity for domestic customers.

'Inhuman' conditions

In Kosovo, where temperatures have  plummeted to minus 25 Celsius (minus 13 Fahrenheit) police said a homeless man was found dead, apparently from hypothermia.

A migrant camp on the Greek island of Thessaloniki has experienced sub-zero temperatures and up to 20cm of snow
Image: picture-alliance/NurPhoto/N. Economou

Meanwhile in Greece, a naval ship was sent to the island of Lesbos to house some 500 refugees and migrants. A medical association on the island said conditions at the main camp there were "inhuman," with migrants in tents exposed to freezing temperatures.

Human rights group Amnesty International urged Athens and European Union and the Greek government to move migrants from the Greek islands to the mainland and launched an online petition.