Extreme winter weather swept across western Europe on Saturday, leaving thousands of passengers stranded at London’s main international airport and claiming several lives in Spain, Portugal, Scotland and France, including those of three Mali-bound soldiers.
The frigid temperatures also caused delays and cancellations on major railway lines including the Eurostar train service, and transport authorities warned of further traffic disruptions with more blizzards forecast yesterday. In London, thousands of passengers were forced to camp out on the floor at Heathrow Airport overnight as hundreds of flights to and from the British capital were canceled.
“There are lots of bodies lying around in the airport. If feels like there’s been a natural disaster,” Jerry Meng from Los Angeles, whose flight to New York was canceled, told the BBC.
London’s other main airports, Gatwick and Stansted, managed to operate fairly normally on Saturday. The snow was expected to reduce traffic at Heathrow by 20 percent yesterday, and French air traffic authorities have ordered a 40 percent cut in takeoffs and landings at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports.
Aeroports de Paris, which operates the city’s main airports, said air traffic there would be disrupted from late Saturday “and all day Sunday.”
Air France said all of its long-haul flights would operate normally yesterday, but that about 40 percent of its short and medium-haul flights would be affected by the disruptions.
Snow and ice covering large parts of France led to several fatal car crashes, one of which killed three French soldiers about to join comrades fighting in Mali, authorities said.
The troops were traveling in an army car with their military packs and weapons when their vehicle crashed in an accident involving two trucks and two cars.
In total, six people were killed on the slippery French roads on Saturday, and the nation’s weather services have forecast more snow across the northern and southeastern parts of the country over the weekend.
The French railway SNCF said high-speed train travelers could expect delays of up to 40 minutes for all TGV destinations on Saturday night, as train conductors had been ordered to slow down because of the elevated risks linked to the storms.
The cold snap also led to power outages, particularly in Northern Ireland, where at least 900 homes were without electricity on Saturday.
In southern Europe, the fierce weather claimed several lives, killing two men in Spain as the force of winds whipping the country’s southeastern coast caused a wall to collapse on them in the city of Cartagena.
Spain’s national rail operator ADIF said wind damage forced delays to high-speed trains linking Madrid with the major cities of Seville and Valencia.
The country’s interior ministry issued an alert for the weekend, warning of snow and rainstorms nationwide with winds up to 100kph and rough seas in the Mediterranean.
In Portugal, an elderly man was killed after strong winds hurled him into a door in the central municipality of Abrantes, leaving him with deadly head injuries. Two teenagers were hospitalized after a chimney collapsed in Agualva, in the Lisbon suburbs.
The Portugese meteorological institute has issued the highest weather alert for six of its 18 districts.
According to rescue services, about 3,900 weather-related incidents were reported in Portugal between Friday morning and noon on Saturday.
Some welcomed the icy spell.
In Russia, thousands of Orthodox devotees braved the cold weather and plunged into holes cut into frozen rivers and ponds to celebrate the Orthodox Epiphany.
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around