Paris :Heavy snowfall and deadly blizzards lashed Europe Thursday, forcing airports to cancel or delay flights around the continent, as a deep freeze gripped countries from the far north to the Mediterranean beaches in the south. The snowstorms, unusual for much of Europe at this time of year, left roads blocked, thousands of drivers stranded and schools shut, with weather agencies predicting the biting cold would continue in parts of the region at least through Thursday evening. The death toll Europe-wide continued to climb to more than 50, as another three people perished in Poland, taking the number of victims there to 21, most of them rough sleepers. There have also been six deaths in the Czech Republic in recent days, five in Lithuania, four each in France and Slovakia, three in Spain, two each in Italy, Serbia, Romania and Slovenia, and one each in Britain and the Netherlands. One of the Spanish victims was a 39-year-old homeless man who had been sleeping in an abandoned truck. “Those most at risk of cold-related illness include elderly people, children, and people who have chronic diseases or physical or mental limitations,” the World Health Organization said in a statement, adding that the poor, the homeless and migrants were often hardest hit. The Siberian cold front — dubbed the “Beast from the East” in Britain, “Siberian bear” by the Dutch and the “snow cannon” by Swedes — on Thursday forced Geneva airport to close for several hours in the morning, with temperatures plunging in Switzerland to nearly minus 40 degrees Celsius (minus 38 Fahrenheit) at higher altitudes. Scotland’s Glasgow airport remains closed until at least 1500 GMT, and Edinburgh airport said several airlines have decided not to fly because “they do not have the critical mass of staff needed to run operations securely”.
Orignally published by APP