Published:  02:39 AM, 12 January 2019

Snow brings parts of Europe to standstill


Heavy snowfalls brought chaos to parts of Germany and Sweden on Friday, leaving roads blocked, trains halted and schools shut.The Red Cross helped drivers stuck on a motorway in the southern German state of Bavaria as schools and rail services were also hit. A nine-year-old boy was killed by a falling tree on Thursday.

Northern Sweden was hit by a storm that made roads impassable. Austrian rescuers had to battle through chest-deep snow to reach a snowboarder. The 41-year-old Pole had lost his way after going off piste at the resort of Schlossalmbahn.

There was some respite in Austria on Friday, after three meters of snow fell in some parts in previous days. Seven people have died in the past week and two hikers have been missing since Saturday.

"Such quantities of snow above 800m altitude only happen once every 30 to 100 years," said Alexander Radlherr from Austria's Central Institution for Meteorology and Geodynamics. Swedish reports spoke of hurricane force winds in parts of the north.

One area recorded winds of 49.7m per second (111mph) as Storm Jan ravaged Stekenjokk near the Norwegian border.Conditions on Friday were particularly treacherous in Bavaria, where the local broadcaster said snowfalls were paralyzing public life.

Rail services were worst hit in the south and east of the state and roads were cut off by drifts and falling trees.A boy of nine was killed near Munich when a tree collapsed under the weight of snow. It was 40 minutes before he was found and emergency services were unable to revive him.

Two sections of the big A8 autobahn were closed in the south-east, as drivers spent Thursday night at a standstill near Rosenheim. The Bavarian Red Cross and a government agency came to the aid of the drivers.Roads in the Berchtesgaden area close to the Austrian border were blocked and the army sent up to 200 soldiers to help hundreds of people caught up in the snow.

In Switzerland, an avalanche hit a hotel restaurant, injuring three people. Local reports said the avalanche had been 300m in width when it came down the Schwägalp.Rescuers searched the area on Friday in case anyone near the Hotel Säntis had been buried in the avalanche.

---BBC

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