World

Winter wonderland grounds Europe's traffic

Freezing temperatures and often blinding snowfall shuttered airports across Britain on Thursday, delayed flights across Europe and forced thousands of passengers in Germany to spend the night in trains.

In neighboring Poland, the cold claimed 10 more lives, bringing the overall number of deaths to 18, Polish police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski said. He urged Poles to report any homeless or drunk people on the streets to officers in hopes of saving their lives.

Authorities in Berlin also kept subway stations, soup kitchens and heated buses open all night to provide shelter for the city's homeless.

Gatwick Airport, one of Britain's busiest, was closed for a second straight day, canceling another 600 flights as conditions continued to deteriorate. Edinburgh Airport and London's City Airport were also closed until late evening, according to the Eurocontrol central control agency's website.

The agency also reported significant delays at London Heathrow, Paris' Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam's Schiphol, Berlin's Tegel and Duesseldorf airports.

Travelers hoping to fare better by road or rail were equally stymied as snow continued to fall across the U.K. and most of Germany, leaving thousands of motorists stranded overnight in freezing temperatures.

Some 3,000 rail passengers were also stranded overnight and struggled to catch a few minutes' sleep in their trains, German railway operator Deutsche Bahn said.

Some 200 stranded passengers in Germany's Frankfurt hub spent the night in parked night trains after hotels filled up. Nothing was moving along many of the nation's high-speed train links, such as between Nuremberg and Leipzig in the south and east, or between Hamburg and the Danish capital Copenhagen in the north.

Southeastern Denmark was also badly hit, and heavy snow falls and icy winds severely hampered road and rail traffic across much of the country. The Danish army has been mobilized to help emergency vehicles, using tracked armored personnel carriers to help ambulances and other emergency vehicles cut their way through mounds of snow.

Heavy snowfall in Poland also disrupted the normal flow of planes and trains and created a treacherous situation on many of the country's already abysmal roads.

Thousands of Polish homes were left without electricity or heat as temperatures hovered around minus 10 Celsius (14 Fahrenheit). Several Romanian villages suffered a similar fate, while severe ice caused delays to traffic across the nation.

On many German roads, meanwhile, traffic was chaotic with hundreds of minor accidents due to heavy snowfall. Police in Berlin alone counted 121 accidents Thursday morning, spokesman Burkhardt Opitz said.

In the Netherlands, a light dusting of snow also led to chaos on the roads.

In Geneva, the airport was able to reopen after removing 2,000 tractor-trailers full of snow from the airfield.

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Cassandra Vinograd and Robert Barr in London, Vanessa Gera in Warsaw, Frank Jordans in Geneva, Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Melissa Eddy in Berlin and Mike Corder in Amsterdam contributed to this report.