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France/Europe - weather news

Hundreds trapped in airport but freeze eases off

Article published on the 2010-01-10 Latest update 2010-01-10 12:54 TU

A man looks at his car after it has fallen into a ditch in the snow near Le Monastier sur Gazeille, central France(Photo: Reuters)

A man looks at his car after it has fallen into a ditch in the snow near Le Monastier sur Gazeille, central France
(Photo: Reuters)

Eight-hundred passengers, including 500 British skiers, were trapped overnight at Lyon airport in central France, as snow and freezing temperatures disrupted transport across Europe. Weather forecasters say that temperatures have risen Sunday.

The British skiers were transported by bus to their destinations of Grenoble and Chambéry in the French Alps on Sunday, according to airport officials. The Red Cross were called in to provide cots for passengers stranded because of heavy snow.

Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport is reported to be functioning normally again Sunday after cancelling half its flights Saturday. Airports at Toulouse, Strasbourg, Lourdes, Brest and Lorient were all closed for part of Saturday.

Road traffic has been badly affected by snow and ice, especially in the south, with serious accidents on at least four motorways. High-speed trains were forced to slow down between Paris and Le Mans and Paris and Tours, both in the west of the country.

The Météo France weather service has lifted its high alert across much of the country but several departments remain locked in deep freeze.

As the thermometer dropped, nearly 10,000 households in the south were without electricity because power lines collapsed under the weight of snow.

Temperatures in Paris's hit -20°C in the Paris region, leading the city council to open a fifth homeless shelter.

In Germany snow and gale force winds have caused havoc, with motorways, other roads and railways made impassable by blizzards. Hundreds of people were forced to spend Saturday night in their cars.

Britain is suffering its coldest winter for 30 years, with 50 short-haul flights from Lodon's Heathrow airport cancelled Saturday, Premier League football matches cancelled and London's Serpentine outdoor swimming pool closed for the first time in about 140 years.

Ireland's Dublin airport was closed for four hours.

Heavy rain and melting snow have caused floods in Croatia, Bosnia and Albania, where 5,000 people have been forced out of their homes, prompting neighbouring Macedonia to offer aid.

The extreme weather is caused by a rare combination of a depression bringing reatlively warm air from the Mediterranean to meet cold air further north and east, according to Météo France.

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