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Snow causes more cancellations at Heathrow airport
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Jan 20, 2013


Snow disrupts flights, blocks roads in northern China
Beijing (AFP) Jan 20, 2013 - Snow in northern China has forced the cancellation of more than 100 flights and the closure of dozens of highways, authorities said Sunday.

Beijing Capital International Airport's official website said a total of 111 flights were cancelled at the facility, including 16 international ones.

Another 68 flights were delayed, with 11 of those on international routes.

More than 40 highways in northern China were closed due to the snow, the government's official weather website said. No accidents were reported.

As of 8:00 am Sunday weather authorities recorded up to 8.6 centimetres (3.4 inches) of snow in a mountainous part of northwestern Beijing near the Great Wall of China.

Much smaller amounts fell in central Beijing and had largely stopped by Sunday afternoon.

Storm brings Frankfurt airport to standstill
Berlin (AFP) Jan 20, 2013 - Traffic at Germany's Frankfurt airport came to a complete standstill Sunday, with all flights cancelled for several hours, as freezing rain lashed the runways and created ice problems for the aircraft.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled from around 1540 GMT as it was no longer possible to prevent ice from forming on the aircraft, an airport spokesman told AFP.

De-icing operations restarted at 1900 GMT and traffic slowly resumed at the rate of about 10 incoming flights an hour and outgoing on a case-by-case basis, the spokesman said.

The formation of ice poses a great security risk as it weighs down the planes and makes them less aerodynamic.

The air traffic halt forced Frankfurt-bound flights to divert to other airports.

Frankfurt's air traffic movements will still be affected on Monday, largely due to the flights that were diverted elsewhere.

"There are planes that should normally be in Frankfurt now and which are God knows where," the spokesman explained.

London's Heathrow Airport warned of further flight cancellations on Monday which would leave thousands more passengers stranded on the fourth day of delays after heavy snow swept across Britain.

The airport, one of the world's busiest, cancelled 260 flights on Sunday, the equivalent of 20 percent of its usual schedule. Meanwhile the Eurostar train service also cancelled four trains due to snow and ice.

As the bad weather that began on Friday looks set to continue into next week, Heathrow said it was cancelling 10 percent of flights planned for Monday.

"Latest forecasts for tomorrow show a high probability of low visibility conditions. This will reduce the capacity of the airport and without action would cause significant disruption to passengers and flights," a statement said.

It said the cancellations on Monday would allow more time for other aircraft to take off and land, reducing the likelihood that there would be last-minute cancellations that would cause even more disruption to travellers.

Britain is braced for a continuation of the bad weather which has left hundreds of homes without power, closed schools and caused transport chaos in recent days, with several weather warnings in place for overnight Sunday.

Four climbers were killed in an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands on Saturday. The two men and two women were found dead after the accident near Glencoe, and another women is in critical condition.

Three of the climbers were named as Una Rachel Finnegan, 25, from Northern Ireland, Tom Chesters, 28, who was living in Leeds, and 24-year-old Christopher Bell, from Blackburn, northwest England.

Snow disrupts flights, blocks roads in northern China
Beijing (AFP) Jan 20, 2013 - Snow in northern China has forced the cancellation of more than 100 flights and the closure of dozens of highways, authorities said Sunday.

Beijing Capital International Airport's official website said a total of 111 flights were cancelled at the facility, including 16 international ones.

Another 68 flights were delayed, with 11 of those on international routes.

More than 40 highways in northern China were closed due to the snow, the government's official weather website said. No accidents were reported.

As of 8:00 am Sunday weather authorities recorded up to 8.6 centimetres (3.4 inches) of snow in a mountainous part of northwestern Beijing near the Great Wall of China.

Much smaller amounts fell in central Beijing and had largely stopped by Sunday afternoon.

Thousands of Russians brave icy waters for Orthodox holiday
Moscow (AFP) Jan 19, 2013 - Thousands of Russians plunged into icy waters to celebrate the Orthodox holiday of the Epiphany on Saturday, as air temperatures dipped below minus 40 degrees Celsius (minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit) in some places.

The purification ritual, commemorating the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, sees devout Orthodox Russians plunge into cross-shaped holes cut into frozen ponds and rivers.

Devotees believe the water takes on sacred powers during the holiday.

In line with custom, men and women clad in long white shirts or bikinis, emerged themselves three times into the ice-holes in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

In Moscow, hundreds of people gathered for their freezing dip at a park pond in the city centre, where air temperatures fell below minus 10C.

Children also took part in the ancient rite that has been passed on through generations since early tsarist times.

The somewhat unusual Orthodox ceremony takes place every year from midnight to midnight between January 18 and January 19, mainly in Russia.

Bathers believe the annual ice plunge will purify them and the cold water will strengthen their bodies.

Authorities issued warnings ahead of the annual dip in a bid to dissuade people with heart conditions from participating.

The Russian Interior Ministry estimated more than two million people had taken part in the ceremony by Saturday.

Local media reported that millions of people living in the city of Yakutsk, in north-eastern Siberia, had bathed in the Lena River, where outside temperatures below minus 40 C were recorded.

Four killed in Scottish avalanche
London (AFP) Jan 19, 2013 - An avalanche in the Scottish Highlands on Saturday killed four climbers and seriously injured one, while a sixth survived, police said.

The avalanche happened on Bidean nam Bian, a 1,150-metre (3,800-foot) peak by the west coast.

Following a major search operation involving two mountain rescue teams, the local Northern Constabulary police force said two men and two women were found and have since been pronounced dead.

One woman was found alive and is in a serious condition in a nearby hospital. The sixth member of the group, a male climber, raised the alarm and helped with the search.

It is thought they were descending when the slope they were on broke away.

Britain has been hit by heavy snow, forcing many airports and airlines to cancel flights.

The deceased climbers were located with the use of a metal "probe", suggesting they were more than a metre under the snow.

"This is an appalling tragedy, and our immediate thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have been lost," said Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond.

"To lose four people from a party of six is truly devastating.

"The Scottish government will provide any support that we can and I would like to thank the police and mountain rescue team for their efforts in these difficult circumstances."

Reverend Moira Herkes will lead a prayer for those involved in the tragedy during her Sunday service at the nearby St Munda's Church.

"This is the worst accident to happen here for many years," she said.

"It is very distressing, because people come here for pleasure and when something like this happens it hurts everyone involved.

"This is a very beautiful place, but at times it can be very dangerous."

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