Thousands of travellers in Europe remain stranded

Heavy snow stranded thousands of Christmas travellers in Europe on Friday.

Thousands of travellers in Europe remain stranded

Heavy snow stranded thousands of Christmas travellers in Europe on Friday, with Belgium's main airport closed for landing and icy roads in Sweden choked with traffic.

Cold weather during the busy Christmas period has disrupted travel and business across Europe this week, and the prolonged period of severe weather is expected to clip economic growth in Germany, Europe's biggest economy.

A spokesman for the Brussels airport warned travellers to prepare to spend the night in Brussels, saying no flights would be allowed to land until 4 p.m. (1500 GMT).

"It is extremely difficult to handle flights," said Jan Van der Cruysse. "We had 25 centimetres (10 inches) of snow overnight and there are huge surfaces to be cleaned. There is nothing we can do about it."

Delays and cancellations of outbound flights would likely continue throughout the day even when the airport opens to landing flights, he said. "I can't remember the weather being this bad in December," he said.

In Sweden, heavy snowfall across southern parts of the country caused major traffic problems on roads and railways for the second day running on Friday.

The Swedish Transport Administration predicted tough weather conditions to disrupt travel on Christmas Day, with many trains likely to be cancelled.

About 2,000 people were forced to spend Thursday night at two main airports in Paris as snowfall in the north and east of the country continued to disrupt transport services.

The French government expects hundreds of people to spend Christmas Eve night at Roissy, where rows of army-style folding beds and blankets filled terminal areas, largely due to a lack of de-icing fluid.

In Netherlands, Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport was operating normally on Friday but Eindhoven was shut briefly. The Brussels airport had also briefly run out of de-icing fluid because of the prolonged cold snap.

More warnings

Friday's disruptions follow travel chaos earlier in the week, when tens of thousands were stranded across Europe as delays and cancellations of flights and high-speed trains were confounded by road travel restrictions.

Authorities throughout Europe warned about further disruptions in the coming days.

In Italy, flights and rail services were running normally on Friday but heavy rain in the north caused problems in some cities including Venice, where shoppers and tourists were forced to wade through knee high water in Saint Mark's square.

In Vicenza, to the west of Venice, there were fears that the Bacchiglione river could burst its banks and some residents were evacuated from their homes.

Britain's main air travel hubs had some cancellations and delays on Friday but London's Heathrow, the world's busiest international airport, said both of its runways were open.

Most main roads in England remained clear, but the Highways Agency warned motorists about the danger of icy roads as Britain headed for its coldest December in decades.

Parts of Scotland and possibly northeast England were forecast to have a white Christmas.


Reuters

Last Mod: 24 Aralık 2010, 17:57
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