Heavy Snow Strands German Motorists, Leaves 80,000 Without Power
Snow strands hundreds overnight on German highway
The Associated Press, Jan. 10, 2010
BERLIN - Heavy snowfall trapped more than 160 people overnight on a frozen highway in northeastern Germany. The drivers survived by running their engines until police rescued them Sunday morning.
Police in the town of Altentreptow said that 148 adults and 19 children were stuck in cars, a bus and trucks on highway A20 along the Baltic Coast.
"At least the firefighters were able to bring them hot beverages and food while they were waiting," said Jens Apelt, a spokesman for the Altentreptow highway police.
They were rescued after officers and rescue personnel used snow plows and heavy machinery to push through 6.5-foot (2-meter) drifts.
The drivers were brought to tents provided by local aid organizations.
"Several parts of the highway are still blocked by snow drifts, but we're trying to free all cars from the snow so that the drivers can get back to their vehicles back and take a different road instead," said Apelt.
In southern Poland, about 80,000 people were left without electricity on Sunday after snow-ladden tree branches cracked, damaging several power lines, the news agency PAP reported.
Traffic also came to a standstill in other parts of northeastern Germany, which was suffering from a second day of heavy snowfall and gusty winds, especially along the Baltic Coast.
Two men were killed in an accident on the coast in Nordvorpommern when their car slid off a snow-covered road and hit a tree.
In Anklam, near the Polish border, rescue team had to free a regional train with 14 passengers that was stuck in drifts, the German news agency DAPD reported.
German railways reported that many trains in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania were not running because railroad tracks across were blocked by snow.
The state government said Sunday that the county of Ostvorpommern declared a state of emergency to react to the severe weather conditions and the chaotic traffic situation. It also asked residents to stay at home and avoid traveling by car, train or ferry.
Several towns along the coast and on the islands were also cut off from electricity and continuing snowfall in many parts of Germany led to traffic accidents and flight cancelations in several cities.
At Frankfurt airport, 61 flights were canceled and more than 400 persons spent the night at the airport.
Along the Baltic Coast, ferry service to Scandinavia was canceled.
In the cities of Flensburg and Luebeck, several streets were flooded by rough swell and in the village of Dahmeshoeved the levees were threatening to break. Rescue teams were busy repairing the damage, DAPD reported.
In southern Denmark, strong winds and snowfall also caused havoc on the roads and authorities warned against all unnecessary driving. The military's armored tanks were put on duty to assist emergency vehicles through the snow and big "wind-sensitive vehicles" were warned against crossing the Orsesund bridge to Sweden.
British forecasters predicted temperatures will likely remain frigid in many areas for the next week and beyond.
Britain's Press Association news agency put the number of weather-related deaths at 26 — including a woman who died after being found lying in the snow in a wooded area in northern England and a 90-year-old woman who fell and froze to death in her garden earlier this week.
The Red Cross and the military have both been mobilized to help deliver supplies to snowbound Britons in southern England. British Gas said it had experienced the busiest week on record with a surge of calls reporting broken boilers and frozen pipes.
Local authorities used to milder British winters have been struggling to keep roads clear of snow and ice.
Workers at the Cleveland Potash Mine — Britain's largest — have been working overtime to dig out emergency supplies of salt. Chemical firm Ineos has diverted thousands of tons of salt destined for Germany to treat roads across England and Wales.
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