Monday, December 21, 2009

Freeze, snow causes chaos in Europe and East Coast-US

Snow causes chaos in US:

Heavy snowfall has hit the American East Coast, forcing most flights to be canceled in Washington and Baltimore, killing one person and hampering holiday shoppers on the last weekend before Christmas.

Up to 56 cms of snow was expected to fall in the Baltimore-Washington area and a blizzard warning has been issued by the National Weather Service, with wind gusts of 64 kph forecast.

The snowstorm, expected to dump more snow on the region than any storm since at least February 2003, could take a big bite out of retail sales on one of the busiest shopping weekend of the year.

At least one person has died in the storm...

Washington has announced the closure of above-ground Metrorail subway operations and stopped all bus services because streets were rapidly becoming impassable.

The city's Reagan National airport has been closed and many airlines have canceled their flights from Dulles International Airport.

Baltimore-Washington International Airport is open but the majority of the flights have been canceled....

Big freeze kills at least 80 across Europe:

The death toll from winter storms across Europe rose to at least 80 on Monday as transport chaos spread amid mounting anger over the three-day failure of Eurostar high-speed trains.

With tens of thousands stranded by the cancellation of London-to-Paris trains and hundreds of flights across the continent, new accidents and mass power cuts added to the big freeze tumult.

A car veered off an icy road and knocked concrete onto rails, derailing a Paris commuter train and injuring 36 people, police said. Three hundred people had to be evacuated from the train.

Another train in the Croatian capital Zagreb hit a buffer injuring 52 people.

Croatian investigators blamed the minus 17 degrees Celsius (1.4 Fahrenheit) temperatures for a brake failure, national television reported. European temperatures as low as minus 33.6 degrees Celsius (minus 28.5 Fahrenheit) have been recorded in Bavaria.

In Poland, authorities said 42 people, many of them homeless, had died of cold over three days after temperatures plunged to minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus four Fahrenheit).

Ukraine reported 27 deaths while six people were killed in accidents in Germany and three in Austria.

France has reported at least two deaths of homeless people, and the national power company briefly cut electricity to two million people on Monday saying it was necessary to avoid an even bigger blackout amid surging demand.

More flights were cancelled in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain and main highways were blocked across Europe where some regions had more than 50 centimetres (20 inches) of snow.

The breakdown of the Eurostar service under the Channel, linking London with Paris and Brussels, has symbolised Europe's suffering.

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