18 killed in Poland as winter grips Europe

Thursday, December 2, 2010

BERLIN - Ten more people froze to death in Poland Thursday, bringing to 18 the number of deaths in the country as Europe struggled with an unusually early onset of winter.

In eastern Poland, overnight temperatures dropped to as low as minus 26 degrees Celsius. Power failures in central Poland left 30,000 people without heating in their homes, the Polish Press Agency reported.

Authorities appealed to the public to notify police if they saw homeless sleeping in parks. The homeless were being taken to warm shelters.

Snow began to blanket most of northern Europe at the start of the week, disrupting rail, road and air transport.

In Germany, three people were killed overnight in snow-related road accidents, including the driver of a snowplough that stalled on a level crossing just as a train approached.

In Romania, three people were killed in accidents on icy roads.

In the Netherlands 400 km of roads and motorways were blocked by snow-related traffic jams, while Belgium registered jams totalling 500 km.

Delays prompted airlines and railways to cancel services when planes and trains were unavailable, stranding passengers or causing overcrowding in follow-on services.

Gatwick Airport near London announced it would remain shut for another day, until early Friday, as fresh snow fell on England. Most other European airports suffered occasional stoppages, but were keeping the upper hand in the battle to de-ice runways.

In Frankfurt, hundreds of train passengers were stranded overnight after the German rail company cancelled an eastbound express. They were put up in sleeper carriages parked up in the station, because every hotel in the city was already booked out.

France faced rail delays, including the cancellation of almost half the Eurostar services between Paris and London. Between 10 and 25 percent of flights out of Paris airports Orly and Charles de Gaulle were cancelled.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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