European storm: Icy blizzards stall transport networks

Fresh heavy snowfalls lashing Europe have caused transport delays, with the deep freeze expected to continue.

The blizzard forced the cancellation of all flights at Dublin Airport on Thursday and the temporary closure of Geneva Airport in Switzerland.

Large parts of the Continent continue to shiver in the grip of a Siberian weather system that has brought the coldest temperatures for several years.

The cold snap has been given various nicknames in different countries.

In Britain it is "the Beast from the East" - with Storm Emma close behind - while the Dutch are calling it the "Siberian bear" and Swedes the "snow cannon".

Flights in and out of Dublin Airport have been suspended with service disruptions expected to continue until Saturday at the earliest. Ireland remains braced for what is predicted to be its heaviest snowfall in decades.

The airport in the Swiss city of Geneva was forced to shut down on Thursday morning but was later reopened after the runway was cleared using snow ploughs.

Icy blizzards across Europe have also seen trains cancelled and roads come to a standstill.

About 2000 drivers were stranded on a motorway near the French city of Montpellier, with some complaining of being stuck for as long 24 hours.

Meanwhile, dozens of people have been reported dead across the continent - including 21 in Poland, according to AFP news agency. Many are believed to have been rough sleepers.

Deaths were also reported in Britain and the Netherlands and as the cold spell spread as far south as the Mediterranean, casualties were reported in France, Spain and Italy, among others.

In the French capital, Paris, authorities set up emergency shelters for the city's roughly 3,000 homeless. The beaches in Nice were blanketed in a thick layer of snow.

Meanwhile, people in Ukraine have been battling with snow-covered streets, with further snowstorms forecast in the days to come.

But the weather has also brought opportunities for fun, including skating and sledding as well as skiing on city streets in Britain and France.


Photo: AFP. Caption: A blizzard hits central London as temperatures remain below freezing.