Travel chaos after heavy snow in Germany

Germany Weather, © AP/Press Association Images

A snowstorm and strong winds pounded northern and western Germany on Sunday, forcing rail services to be cancelled and leading to hundreds of road accidents.

Police said 28 people were injured on icy roads.

Authorities took homeless people into warm shelters amid the sub-zero temperatures.

National train operator Deutsche Bahn said main rail services between Hamburg and Hanover, Berlin and the west were cancelled as snowdrifts piled up on the tracks and power lines.

Some train connections in the east were also cancelled, though most of the snow fell in the north-west.

A Deutsche Bahn employee clears snow from a platform at the main station in Magdeburg, German (Peter Gercke/dpa/AP)

Police in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia said early on Sunday that they had counted 222 accidents due to the bad weather conditions since Saturday afternoon. They said two of the casualties were severely injured.

German weather service DWD urged people to stay at home.

In the western city of Muenster, among the hardest hit places in the country, there was so much snow on the streets that ambulances could no longer drive.

Almost 12in (30cm) of snow had fallen, piling up to more than 3ft (1m) in some parts, and more snow was expected to fall on Sunday.

Parked cars in Gelsenkirchen are covered with snow, which is rare in the industrial Ruhr area (Martin Meissner/AP)

City authorities in the western town of Hagen walked through the streets at night waking up homeless people sleeping outside and taking them to shelters, the dpa news agency reported.

In Berlin, the capital’s biggest shelter, a tent city on the outskirts, was cleared early on Saturday to make sure people did not freeze to death in sub-zero temperatures.

While the west of the country was freezing, southern Germany experienced balmy, spring-like temperatures.

The unusual weather and temperature divide was caused by a polar vortex pushing icy air from the Arctic towards northern Germany just as a low pressure front brought wet, warm weather from the south-west, DWD said.


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