Unseasonable weather shuts down Moscow airport

26th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

A power line failure shut down Moscow's largest airport Sunday as unseasonably warm weather produced hail storms that wreaked havoc with the city's traffic and left shoppers slipping on ice.

Domodedovo International Airport, which handles a daily average of more than 55,000 travellers, reported a total power outage at around 8:00 am (0700 GMT).

An emergency power supply unit allowed the airport to receive the approaching traffic but all arrivals and departures were ended two hours later, ITAR-TASS reported.

Some 16,000 people were left stranded at the facility and airport officials said they did not expect the problems to be resolved before the evening.

The city's second-largest airport Sheremetyevo was operating according to scheduled and expecting to pick up some of Domodedovo's arrivals, a spokeswoman told RIA Novosti.

Various news reports said that similar outages had affected some 150 settlements around the city and other parts of central Russia, with more than 100,000 people left without electricity by midday.

Temperatures in Russia's capital hovered around the freezing point throughout the weekend, producing unseasonable rain showers that turned the city into what one television station described as a "concrete skating rink".

Moscow officials advised the city's 10-million-plus inhabitants to stay at home, with a mayor's office spokesman telling Interfax that people should not venture outside "unless there was an extreme emergency".

The freezing rain also damaged power supply lines used by the city's trams and trolley buses, with officials ordering 96 extra buses out onto the streets to cover the affected routes.

Further problems were reported on Moscow's suburban train routes. A traffic spokesman told Interfax that there were delays throughout the region "affecting almost all the destination points".

© 2010 AFP

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