Snow and bitter cold bring chaos to Germany, Britain

Published February 10, 2021
A RESIDENT in Wernigerode, Germany, clears the sidewalk in front of her door off snow.—AP
A RESIDENT in Wernigerode, Germany, clears the sidewalk in front of her door off snow.—AP

BERLIN: Freezing drivers were stranded for hours in traffic jams in Germany and Covid-19 vaccination centres were shut in Britain on Tuesday as Europe was pummelled by the heaviest snow in years.

Some parts of Germany were cloaked in up to 50 centimetres (20 inches) of snow by Tuesday afternoon, according to local media reports.

Traffic on a motorway near the city of Bielefeld was brought to a standstill overnight Monday into Tuesday, with some drivers trapped for at least 16 hours.

The bottleneck, caused by lorries stuck in the snow, stretched over 37 kilometres (23 miles), local police said.

Video footage showed shivering drivers huddled in their vehicles, complaining of going for hours without food as temperatures plunged to minus 12 degrees Celsius (10 degrees Fahrenheit).

Severe jams were also reported in Hesse state, where some drivers were stuck in their cars for 15 hours, according to police.

Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer asked residents to avoid setting out on journeys until Wednesday at the earliest.

In such extreme conditions, even the best railway switch heaters and snow clearing vehicles “can reach their limits”, he told the Funke media group.

Northern and eastern Germany were particularly badly hit on Sunday and Monday night, with blizzard-like conditions and some of the coldest temperatures seen in years.

Police in Saxony-Anhalt state said a man had probably frozen to death after he was found buried in snow next to his tractor.

In Bielefeld, a man was found dead on a snow-covered road on Monday, though emergency services said initial findings suggested he had suffered a medical emergency.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2021

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