The show goes on, but sport is frozen out

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The Independent Online
The Siberian weather claimed up to seven more lives and froze out much of the New Year's Day sporting fixtures yesterday amid predictions of more bitter cold conditions to come.

With wind chill taking temperatures down to -21C at Langdon Bay, near Dover, Kent, and most of the country shivering at -7C, even Iceland was warmer than Britain.

Frozen pitches prevented three FA Carling Premiership football games from going ahead and another 25 Nationwide League matches fell victim to the cold. Ten matches were lost in the Bell's Scottish League and rugby union and league were also hit.

In racing, which has seen 33 meetings postponed since Boxing Day, the only meeting unaffected was on the all-weather track at Lingfield.

The freezing winds led to calls from Ann Clywd, the Labour MP, for wind chill to be taken into account when calculating the entitlement of elderly people to cold weather payments.

The weather also made driving perilous in many parts of the country.

The RAC repeated its warning to motorists not to make unnecessary journeys in the worst-hit rural areas including the Peak District, the Midlands, Kent, Sussex and mid-Wales. After receiving 10,000 calls on New Year's Eve, about 50 per cent more than normal, the organisation was prepared for at least as many yesterday.

An elderly woman driver in Wales escaped when her car careered off the A458 Welshpool to Dolgellau road and was stopped from rolling into the river Banwy only by trees on the bank.

But others were less fortunate in the hazardous conditions. In Bristol, a 64-year-old man was killed by a car when he walked on the road to avoid slippery pavements and in Reading an elderly woman was killed when she slipped and fell in front of a car. A woman driver was killed in a car crash at South Newington, near Banbury, Oxfordshire, and a 26-year-old man died in a head-on collision near Bath.

In Essex, a 17-year-old who had been reported missing by his mother was found dead in a field at Rochford. Police said they were not treating the death as "suspicious".

A man's body was retrieved from a freezing pond in Normanton, West Yorkshire, and another man died after falling into a pond in Reigate, Surrey.

In Mayfield, East Sussex, an ambulance crew was forced to abandon its vehicle in snow-drifts and walk to an isolated house, arriving too late to save a patient.

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