Delays for travellers as blizzards cause chaos

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The Independent Online
CLARE GARNER

Fresh blizzards brought chaos to Britain yesterday, taking their toll on everything from sporting events to the Channel tunnel.

Kent was one of the worst-hit areas, and Eurotunnel was forced to suspend tourist traffic. A slower, reduced service was available for HGV drivers but they were warned of a four-hour delay. A spokesman for Eurotunnel said: "We are not sure when we will be able to operate a normal service - hopefully as soon as the weather eases we can make progress."

Meanwhile high winds and driving snow wreaked havoc at the port of Dover where all ferry sailings were suspended after passengers on the Prins Filip ferry were stranded for over 16 hours, unable to dock at Ramsgate because of the weather. The 408 passengers were last night due to be taken back to Ostend.

Rough seas breached coastal defences in several towns in southern Britain and 30 people were evacuated from one village in Norfolk. Nearly14,000 homes in Lincolnshire, particularly the Boston area, and others in Kent were left without electricity.

On the roads, many routes were blocked by snowdrifts up to 6ft deep. The worst-hit areas were East Anglia and the South-east, with the RAC describing road conditions in both areas were "appalling". Dozens of roads in Norfolk, Suffolk and Kent were closed, and an RAC spokesman said Suffolk was "virtually cut off". Police said roads across Lincolnshire were littered with abandoned and crashed cars, with many routes impassable.

The snow brought disruption to Britain's sporting programme for a second day, with at least nine of last night's 30 Endsleigh League fixtures being called off. The only racing in England yesterday was on the all- weather surface at Lingfield.

Even the Old Bailey was disrupted by the weather.

Judge Neil Denison QC, the Common Sergeant of London, apologised to a jury for keeping them waiting for two hours because a rape case defendant, who is in custody, had not been brought from prison.

"It is difficult to believe but the gates of Brixton prison could not be opened," he said. "They were frozen."

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