Europe was struggling to restore roads and railways today after heavy snow caused hundreds of accidents, halted flights, downed power lines in Poland and trapped more than 160 people overnight on a frozen German road.
The 148 adults and 19 children stuck on Germany’s coastal A20 road survived by running their car engines until rescuers using snow ploughs and excavators pushed through 6.5ft drifts to free them yesterday, police in the town of Altentreptow said.
“At least the firefighters were able to bring them hot beverages and food while they were waiting,” said Jens Apelt, a spokesman for the Altentreptow highway police.
After being rescued, the people were brought to tents set up by aid organisations until rescuers could unblock all the cars.
Hundreds of weather-related road accidents were reported in Germany after a second day of heavy snowfall, especially along the Baltic Coast. Two men were killed when their car hit a tree in Nordvorpommern.
Ferry services across the Baltic to Scandinavia was cancelled, and rough sea swells flooded several streets in the cities of Flensburg and Luebeck while threatening to break dams in the village of Dahmeshoeved.
“The waves of the Baltic Sea are whipping against the boardwalk, pulling bricks out of the wall with incredible power which are flying around uncontrollably,” police in Luebeck-Travemuende said.
In south-eastern France, about 800 people at a snowbound airport in Lyon spent the night huddled on waiting room armchairs or camping cots, after flights in and out of the city were halted on Saturday night. Flights resumed gradually yesterday.
In southern Poland, about 80,000 people were without electricity yesterday after snow-laden tree branches cracked, damaging several power lines, the news agency PAP reported.
In the German city of Anklam, near the Polish border, rescue teams freed a train carrying 14 passengers that was stuck in drifts, DAPD reported.
Several German coastal and island towns were cut off from electricity.
At Frankfurt airport, 61 flights were cancelled and more than 400 people spent the night at the airport.
In southern Denmark, strong winds and snowfall also caused chaos on the roads. Tanks were put on duty to assist emergency vehicles through the snow, while authorities warned that big “wind-sensitive vehicles” should not cross the Oresund bridge to Sweden.
In Croatia, snow swelled rivers and triggered emergency anti-flood measures. A number of houses were flooded in the southern town of Metkovic, forcing some residents to use small boats to reach polling stations during yesterday’s presidential election, state-run news agency HINA said.