Snow wreaks havoc across Europe
THE icy fingers of winter showed little sign of loosening their iron grip on Europe yesterday, playing havoc with travel across the continent.
Geneva airport was forced to shut down on one of its busiest tourist weekends of the year and the big freeze prompted a state of emergency on part of Germany's Baltic coast.
Thousands of passengers were stranded at Geneva's Cointrin Airport after heavy overnight snow kept it closed until noon.
"It was the first time we had so much snow on the runway since 1985," airport spokesman Bertrand Staempfli said.
Many European skiers use Geneva airport to reach popular Swiss and French ski resorts.
Meanwhile, a man who was rescued after falling through thick ice on the River Tees in northern England died yesterday, police said.
The man was walking his two dogs when they strayed onto the ice and he followed in an attempt to save them.
A member of public rang the police just before 1pm yesterday to say the man had fallen through the ice and emergency services were called to the scene.
Attempts were made to resuscitate the man as he was pulled from the river near Stockton-on-Tees by the Coastguard.
In Germany, hundreds of motorists had to abandon their cars in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, where 25cm of snow fell and the district of Ostvorpommern declared a state of emergency, local authorities said.
Schools across the state will stay closed today. Ninety-one flights were cancelled yesterday at Frankfurt airport, Germany's busiest, compared to 225 the day before.
In Poland, at least 200,000 households suffered a power outage and shoppers and workers were evacuated from a shopping centre in the western city of Leszno when its roof began to give way under 1.5 metres of snow, rescue services said.
A police spokesman said that since the onset of cold weather in October, 152 people had been found frozen to death in Poland.
Meanwhile, more than 5,400 people have been evacuated after China's north-west Xinjiang region was hit by a strong blizzard that left one person dead. Heavy snow flattened about 800 homes and damaged nearly 5,000 others in Xinjiang's Tacheng and Altay regions.