Wintry blast strands thousands of travelers in France | News | DW | 28.12.2014
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Wintry blast strands thousands of travelers in France

Thousands of travelers have been forced to seek emergency shelter in France as a snowstorm hit a popular ski region during the holiday season. Authorities have urged drivers to delay their trips if possible.

Motorists in the French Alps were being urged to postpone their travel plans or seek shelter for the night as heavy holiday traffic combined with a heavy snowfall made for a weekend of traffic delays.

In the Savoie region of eastern France, about 15,000 travelers had to seek shelter in 83 emergency shelters overnight to Sunday, while others spent a chilly night in their cars after delays of several hours.

"Getting to the ski stations is still pretty tricky and snow chains are mandatory. The advice is that all those who can should delay their journey," the French Transport Ministry said in a statement.

Although the weather conditions are not unusual for this time of year in Europe, they were severe enough to be hazardous for drivers, especially with the number of vehicles on the roads.

The northern French port of Calais was also temporarily closed due to heavy winds. In Germany, the snowy weather resulted in a 20-kilometer (12-mile) traffic jam near Stuttgart on Saturday.

Icy conditions also caused the cancellation of 20 of the more than 900 planned flights from Frankfurt Airport on Sunday, while in the UK more than 100,000 households suffered power cuts.

Despite the travel chaos, the arrival of fresh white powder was a welcome relief for ski resorts which have struggled with a lack of snow and mild temperatures.

se/ksb (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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