Sat, Mar 03, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Shivering Europe hoping for some weekend respite

AFP, PARIS

A child on a sled plays in the snow in Glasgow, Scotland, yesterday.

Photo: EPA

Europe’s deep freeze, which has cost 59 lives over the past week, yesterday showed little sign of ending as a shivering continent awaited a sliver of weekend respite from the chaos wrought by a brutal Siberian weather system.

After heavy snowfall and deadly blizzards lashed Europe on Thursday, conditions marginally improved in some regions — but temperatures generally remained sub-zero, forcing more major delays on roads, railways and at airports.

Geneva’s busy airport announced it had reopened shortly after midday “despite the unfavorable meteorological conditions,” having warned earlier it faced staying shut for a second consecutive day as snowstorms continued to lash the Swiss city.

However, airport authorities warned of further “delays and cancelations.”

Switzerland has seen the mercury plummet to a record minus-40?C in the ongoing blizzard, which has also impacted air, road and train transport across Europe and even covered usually balmy Mediterranean beaches with a blanket of snow.

In France, 21 departments, mainly in the northwest, remained on alert for snow and black ice as the vicious cold snap — which British media have dubbed “The Beast from the East,” the Dutch the “Siberian Bear” and Swedes the “Snow Cannon” — maintained its grip.

Over the past week, the freezing conditions have claimed 59 lives according to an Agence France-Presse toll — 23 in Poland, seven in Slovakia, six in the Czech Republic, five in Lithuania, four in France, at least three in Spain, two in Italy, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia, and one in Britain, the Netherlands and Sweden.

The cold threw a spanner into the works of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans to give a speech on Brexit in the northeastern city of Newcastle upon Tyne.

May elected to stay put in London given the transport mayhem.

Also having to change their plans were Andrew Waring and his wife, Daniella, who gave birth to baby daughter, Sienna, on the side of a snowbound main road outside the northeastern town of Darlington.

Andrew Waring delivered the child on the roadside after they realized they would not reach the hospital in time, paramedics dubbing Sienna the “A66 snowbaby” after the road where she emerged into the world.

An ambulance then took the family to hospital.

“Having been present at the birth of our two other children I just copied what I had seen then,” Andrew Waring told the BBC.

Elsewhere in Europe, Serbia and Croatia saw some improvement, but two people died overnight in Poland as temperatures plunged to a low of minus-27?C.

Folldal, a small village in central Norway, saw a record European low for recent days of minus-42?C during the night.

Even so, residents used to harsh conditions were sanguine.

“Life is generally ongoing,” Folldal Mayor Hilde Frankmo Tveren told broadcaster TV2.

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