Snowbound Britain slithers to a halt

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The Independent Online
Hundreds of motorists are this morning struggling to get home after a second night stranded on the roads as the worst weather for a decade hit Britain.

Roads, railways and airports ground to a halt yesterday under the weight of record snowfalls. Some of the worst blizzards in 50 years swept in from the Atlantic, wreaking havoc from Glasgow to Wales.

One motorist used his mobile phone to tell BBC Radio he spent 20 hours in his car with only mints to eat and too little petrol to run the heater.

Temperatures fell to -10C in some areas. Snowdrifts up to 9ft deep blocked hundreds of roads and thousands of homes suffered power cuts as the snow toppled power lines.

Worst hit was Dumfries and Galloway, in the Scottish Borders, where councils declared an emergency after up to 2ft of snow fell in seven hours, cutting off the entire region. Thousands of motorists spent Monday night trapped in their vehicles on the A74 Glasgow-Carlisle road and 12,000 homes suffered black-outs.

In South Wales about 14,000 families waited in the cold as electricians struggled to restore their power. In some areas water supplies were also cut off. Cumbria became a virtual "no-go" area for drivers, with many roads blocked. At Sellafield, 1,000 workers spent a second night at the nuclear reprocessing plant. A fleet of four-wheel drive vehicles earlier shuttled 1,000 of their colleagues to their homes after snow marooned the plant.

Birmingham International Airport was closed as snow drifted back across the runway as fast as snow ploughs could clear it. Planes at Bristol Airport were also grounded and other inbound and outward flights were delayed.

Across Britain, blizzards caused a series of road accidents and the death of a pensioner. John Brown, 72, froze to death yesterday after he wandered out of the grounds of Staplehurst Manor nursing home in Staplehurst, Kent.

Weathermen said last night that more snow was on the way.

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