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WHITE OUT
Half-metre of snowfall blankets Moscow, disrupts traffic
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Jan 21, 2013


Flights hit in Britain as snow and ice causes disruption
London (AFP) Jan 21, 2013 - More than 175 flights were cancelled at London Heathrow Airport on Monday as snow and ice caused widespread disruption to transport in Britain.

Heathrow, one of the world's busiest airports, decided to cut its flight schedule by 10 percent, or 130 flights, in expectation of poor visibility later in the day, but more services were cancelled as the day wore on.

A Heathrow spokesman said: "The additional cancellations are because a number of airports elsewhere in Europe are experiencing problems so that has a knock-on effect for us.

"The number could rise as the day goes on."

Heathrow has invested 36 million (43 million euros, $57 million) in snow-clearing equipment and the runways were clear of snow on Monday.

Flights were suspended at smaller regional airports in England after fresh snow fell overnight in northern and central England. No flights were possible at Manchester, East Midlands and Leeds Bradford airports.

Under-sea train services between Britain and continental Europe were also hit, with Eurostar cancelling six trains linking London with Brussels and also Paris due to speed restrictions on the tracks in northern France.

The snow and ice gave pupils at 3,000 schools across Britain an extended weekend as they closed due to the hazardous conditions.

Unusually heavy snowfall of almost 50 centimetres (20 inches) in Moscow caused traffic jams on Monday but did not affect flights at city airports, which are well equipped for snowstorms.

The snowfall over the last four days in Moscow exceeded the average for the whole month of January, Moscow Deputy Mayor Pyotr Biryukov said.

"Over the last four days, 50 centimetres of snow has fallen in Moscow. Since the start of the month, 65 centimetres has fallen, while the average for the first month of the year is 42 centimetres," Biryukov said, quoted by the Interfax news agency.

He added that street cleaners and snow ploughs had removed 2.5 million cubic metres (88 million cubic feet) of snow over the last four days.

On Monday morning rush-hour traffic crawled at an average speed of 30 kilometres (19 miles) per hour and slowed to 10 kilometres per hour on some highways, a spokesman for the city transport department told Interfax.

The city's three commercial airports were not affected by the weather.

"Takeoffs and landings are going ahead as normal in the Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo and Vnukovo airports. There are no cancellations or delays due to the weather conditions," a spokesman for the air traffic control centre for Moscow airports told Interfax.

The Russian weather centre warned of a "very cold" week in European Russia.

In Moscow, temperatures were predicted to fall to minus 19 degrees Celsius (minus 2 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday night, and then to minus 21 C on Tuesday night.

The most extreme temperatures are predicted in Magadan in Far East Russia, where they could fall to minus 49 C (minus 56 F), and in central Siberia where they could fall to minus 52 C.

Snow, ice cause travel chaos across Europe
Frankfurt (AFP) Jan 21, 2013 - Roads, railways and air travel across much of Europe were plunged into chaos Monday as heavy snow and arctic weather conditions gripped the continent.

Disruptions in air travel were particularly severe, with the cancellation of more than a quarter of all flights at Frankfurt airport, Germany's busiest, and one in 10 flights at London's Heathrow airport, Europe's busiest, following even more widespread cancellations the day before.

And air travellers faced long delays and disruptions at other airports across Germany and in France and Britain as well.

In Frankfurt, Europe's third-busiest airport, 325 take-offs and landings were cancelled Monday, a spokesman for operator Fraport told AFP.

In Munich, Germany's number two airport, some 161 flights -- or more than 15 percent -- were cancelled.

In France, the civil aviation authority DGAC said it expected to cancel 40 percent of flights from and to Paris's Orly and Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airports in a preventive measure following heavy snowfall on Sunday.

However, snow was no longer falling at either airport and the cleared runways were able to handle the reduced volume of traffic, noted a spokeswoman for Aeroports de Paris (ADP).

In Spain, flights bound for Paris, Munich and Frankfurt were hit, leading to the cancellation of 16 flights to and from Barcelona.

Freezing rain and snow also led to treacherous conditions on railways and roads, causing countless accidents.

In the southwest of Germany, police recorded more than 1,000 weather-related accidents and in the northeast of the country, near Berlin, an entire section of motorway was shut to traffic.

In Beglium, three people died and two others were seriously injured when a mini-bus they were travelling in skidded off the road, overturned and caught fire at a motorway exit near Bruges, local authorities said.

In Britain, hundreds of schools remained shut due to the severe winter weather.

In Moscow, unusually heavy snowfall of almost 50 centimetres (20 inches) in Moscow caused traffic jams but did not affect flights at city airports, which are well equipped for snowstorms.

The snowfall over the last four days in Moscow exceeded the average for the whole month of January, Moscow Deputy Mayor Pyotr Biryukov said.

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