Two dead in Germany as more snow threatens Europe

16th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Two people were reported dead in a road accident in Germany on Thursday as large parts of the country were buried under snow, causing traffic chaos and closing schools in several areas.

Neighbouring countries took precautionary action as another huge blizzard was forecast.

More than 170 road accidents were reported in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia alone and there were huge traffic jams on motorways across the country, with hundreds of stationary lorries backed up.

A bus skidded and slammed into a house late Wednesday in the southern state of Bavaria, killing the 50-year-old driver and a 16-year-old schoolboy on board.

Nearby, a lorry carrying washing machines spun out of control, leaving the driver seriously injured and causing a 19-kilometre (12-mile) tailback and 90,000 euros (120,000 dollars) worth of damage, the Bild daily reported.

Schools were closed in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, as well as in parts of nearby Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Saxony and Rhineland-Palatinate.

Bild cited forecasters as expecting up to 20 centimetres (eight inches) of snow in some areas later on Thursday as well as strong winds.

The country's airports were largely unaffected, however, with Frankfurt, the busiest, not experiencing any major problems so far, a spokesman told AFP.

Bitterly cold weather was returning to Britain with a vengeance with widespread ice and snow due over the next few days, forecasters said.

Up to a foot (30 centimetres) of snow could fall in some areas by Saturday, with Scotland bracing for some of the most severe weather for the second time this month.

Parts of Wales and Northern Ireland were also expected to be blanketed by snow.

London's Heathrow airport, one of the busiest in the world, was already suffering disruption on Thursday.

France deployed armoured vehicles on key roads around Paris as the capital braced for another snowstorm, a week after being paralysed by the heaviest snowfall in almost 25 years.

Gendarmes positioned 16 armoured vehicles on highways around the city to prevent a repeat of incidents last week that saw thousands of motorists either spending the night awaiting help or abandoning their cars.

Normally used for crowd control, they were deployed because they are capable of clearing abandoned vehicles from roads, said Colonel Yvan Noailles.

The French government was accused last week of being unprepared for the sudden snowstorm and this time round is taking more precautions, with an interministerial crisis cell up and running since early Thursday.

Thirty-two French departments, or administrative regions, have been warned that they face snow and ice over the next 24 hours, with up to five centimetres forecast for the Paris region.

Heavy trucks were banned from roads in Luxembourg and southeastern Belgium as snow threatened to cause havoc for drivers.

Between 10 and 20 centimetres (four and eight inches) of snow were expected to fall in Belgium's hilly southern Ardennes area, the Royal Meteorological Institute said on its website.

The institute warned that snow or ice could form overnight, "making roads slippery across the country."

The Wallonia regional government said around 550 vehicles, including snowploughs and trucks that spread salt, were already on the roads.

Snow began to fall in Liege and the Duchy of Luxembourg at midday but the bulk of the storm was expected to hit the region later in the day.


© 2010 AFP

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