Spanish minister Siberia-bound for snow lessons

22nd February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Spain's public works minister will visit a Siberian airport to learn how it copes with winter weather following accusations Madrid was ill-equipped to deal with snowstorms last month.

MADRID - Public Works Minister Magdalena Alvarez, who comes from the sunny region of Andalucia in southwestern Spain, will Wednesday visit the airport in Irkutsk "to see how it operates in winter weather conditions", a ministry statement said Saturday.

Hundreds of flights were delayed and over 50 were diverted on January 9 after one of the heaviest snowfalls in decades caused Madrid's Barajas airport, Europe's fourth-busiest, to close for five hours.

The snowfall also led to train delays across the country and caused nearly 400 kilometres (250 miles) of traffic jams around Madrid, leading to accusations the government was not equipped to deal with winter weather.

Alvarez kicked off her visit to Russia on Saturday with a visit to the control centre in Saint Petersburg of state railway company RZD, where the ministry said she took notes on coping with "extreme adverse weather".

Irkutsk, one of the largest cities in Siberia, has a subarctic climate with an average high temperature in January of minus 15 degrees Celsius (five degrees Fahrenheit).

AFP / Expatica

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