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13 dead as winter storm blasts Europe

Most of the victims were killed by avalanches.

Heavy snowfall in Slovakia (Pavol Zachar/TASR via AP)
Heavy snowfall in Slovakia (Pavol Zachar/TASR via AP)

Deadly winter weather has blasted Europe for another day, trapping hundreds of people in Alpine regions, whipping up high winds that caused flight delays and cancellations and raising the risks of more deadly avalanches.

At least 13 people have been killed in weather-related accidents in Europe over the last week, most of them from avalanches.

In Norway, attempts to find the bodies of four skiers were again put on hold due to poor visibility and heavy snowfall.

A 29-year Swedish woman and three Finns, aged 29, 32 and 36, were presumed dead after a 990ft wide avalanche hit a valley near the northern city of Tromso last week.

Search crews in Tamokdalen, northern Norway (Terje Bendiksby/NTB Scanpix/AP)

Romanian police found the frozen body of a 67-year-old man in a car park in the southern city of Slatina after his wife reported he had not returned from work the previous day. Temperatures in Romania plunged to a low of minus 24C in one area.

In Austria, hundreds of residents were stuck in their homes due to blocked roads and some regions experienced power outages after snow-laden trees took down power lines.

Schools in some regions remained closed for a second day and homeowners were advised to remove snow from their roofs after several buildings collapsed.

A 78-year-old man was severely injured when he fell of the roof of his home in Turrach while shovelling snow, Austrian public broadcaster ORF reported.

On Monday night, 11 German hikers had to be rescued by mountaineers from a cabin near Salzburg after getting snowed in without electricity and little food since Friday.

Snowbound cars in Bratislava (Pavol Zachar/TASR/AP)

Other people have also been killed by avalanches in Switzerland, Austria and Germany, and authorities warned that continuing snowfall is increasing the already high risk of more avalanches.

In southern and eastern Germany, people were bracing for more snow, while in the northern coastal city of Hamburg, residents were preparing for a storm flood caused by a winter gale, the German news agency dpa reported.

In the Netherlands, Amsterdam’s busy Schiphol Airport warned of delays and cancellations on Tuesday. Dutch carrier KLM cancelled 159 flights to and from European destinations.

Low-lying north-western coastal regions were being hit by strong winds and wild seas, and local water authorities were checking dikes to make sure they were not damaged.

A Greek Orthodox priest at Penteli Monastery in northern Athens (Thanassis Stavrakis/AP)

The Noorderzijlvest water authority said it was monitoring dikes because of debris floating in the sea after 281 shipping containers tumbled off a cargo ship in a storm last week. Many of the containers are still at sea and some have broken open, spilling their contents.

“A fridge or container that is rammed against a dike can cause damage,” the authority said.

Heavy snowfall and strong winds were reported on Tuesday over central Scandinavia, hampering efforts to restore electricity that went out after a major storm swept through northern Europe on January 2.

Further south, heavy snowfall also disrupted traffic across Slovakia, leading to some flight cancellations at Bratislava’s international airport.

In Greece, schools in Athens and many surrounding areas remained closed after snow blanketed the capital and temperatures in some parts of the Mediterranean nation plunged well below freezing. Some rural mountain roads were closed.

Dozens of refugees housed in tents in a camp in northern Greece protested about living conditions as temperatures sunk to minus 20C in some areas. Even many of Greece’s islands have seen snowfall.



From Belfast Telegraph