Snow, high winds paralyse Europe, kill two

Snow, high winds paralyse Europe, kill two


Weather
Extreme weather has paralysed Europe but, with schools closed, children have been out having fun.

Extreme weather has paralysed Europe but, with schools closed, children have been out having fun.

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An extreme cold snap across Europe has claimed more lives, forced the closure of airports in Scotland, Switzerland, France and Ireland and left hundreds of drivers stranded on snowy highways.

Heavy snow and high winds halted all flights in and out of Dublin Airport, with authorities saying they are unlikely to resume until Saturday. Irish Rail said no trains are likely to run until Saturday.

Forecasters said a new storm is bringing blizzards, 100km/h winds, freezing rain and thunderstorms to Ireland, southwestern England and Wales later on Thursday. They predicted zero visibility and deep pockets of snow.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar urged people to get home by 4pm on Thursday and stay there until the storm has passed.

"The risk to life and limb presented by severe weather conditions should not be underestimated," he said.

The World Health Organisation warned Thursday that the cold weather poses particular risks to vulnerable people such as the elderly, children and those with chronic diseases or disabilities.

Swedish media reported that a woman who had left her home at an asylum centre with her daughter and son, aged 8 and 9, was pronounced dead after being found in a forest.

Danish police said an 84-year-old woman with dementia became the second person to die in the country because of the cold weather. She left her home Wednesday evening and was found Thursday in a park in Roskilde, west of Copenhagen, police said.

Geneva's airport closed after the Swiss city was hit with 13 centimetres (about 5 inches) of snow over a three-hour period early Thursday. It reopened several hours later after extensive de-icing of the runway, plans and facilities.

Snow also shut down Glasgow and Edinburgh airports in Scotland, and there were cancellations at Heathrow and other airports in Britain. Airports in the southern French cities of Montpellier and the Atlantic beach resort of Biarritz were also affected.

Hundreds of drivers were trapped in their cars overnight in Scotland and authorities said everyone except emergency workers should stay off the roads.

Police in the county of Lincolnshire in eastern England said most roads there are impassable, with as much as 60 centimetres of snow in rural areas.

In southern France, about 2000 cars were blocked on highways in the Herault region, where snow - and snowploughs - are extremely rare.

Macedonia's government, meanwhile, urged employers to exempt pregnant women and people over 60 from working for a day and to pay special attention to keeping construction workers warm due to the freezing conditions. The low temperature Thursday in Macedonia dropped to minus 18C near the border with Bulgaria.

Australian Associated Press

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