Northwest Europe cold snap brings transport chaos
London: Northwest Europe shivered under the lash of a snowy pre-Christmas cold snap Friday that closed airports, caused chaos on the roads and gave school kids an early start to their holidays.
Two of London`s airports were closed overnight after heavy snow fell across south and east England, with at least 18 incoming flights being diverted from Gatwick to other British destinations.
Gatwick reopened after runways were cleared, but London Luton stayed shut. Heathrow, the world`s busiest international hub, remained open.
In eastern England, pupils were given an early start to their holidays when schools were closed in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, where Queen Elizabeth II has also begun her holidays.
The queen`s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, where she arrived Wednesday for the annual Christmas celebrations with the rest of the royal family, was among the regions hit by thick snow.
Hundreds of drivers had to spend the night in their cars in Kent in southeast England, while police in Essex reported 180 accidents overnight.
Police in the worst-hit areas warned people to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary, as forecasters predicted further heavy snow showers across the southeast on Friday.
The winter snows also caused major disruption in Paris, with officials asking airlines to cancel 30 percent of their flights into and out of the main Charles de Gaulle airport on Friday.
Nine hundred passengers had to spend the night in the airport after their flights were cancelled on Thursday. Officials said there was no available room in nearby hotels. Travellers were given mattresses, bedclothes and food.
Officials said they expected flights schedules to get back to normal later Friday.
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