Four killed as blizzards sweep the North

Major roads reopened in Yorkshire last night, 24 hours after blizzards in which four men died and thousands of travellers were stranded.

West Yorkshire police said three of the four victims appeared to have abandoned their cars, two dying in the suburbs of Leeds, another in Halifax. The fourth man died at Boothtown, near Halifax, while pushing a car.

The heavy snow, which fell on a band of central northern England from the Mersey to the Humber, condemned many to accommodation ranging from the spartan to the exotic.

The M62 became impassable on Wednesday night, severing the last trans-Pennine route four hours after the blizzards began. Many motorists west of the road's summit spent the night at Birch service station, near Rochdale. But hundreds had to sleep in theirvehicles, sustained by visits from police cars bearing gallons of soup. More than 3,000 vehicles were still stranded on the motorway yesterday morning. Police said last night that the motorway was open, but still difficult to negotiate.

The Snake and Woodhead passes had been closed by dusk on Wednesday in conditions described by South Yorkshire and Derbyshire police as atrocious. Temperatures on the Pennines fell below zero last night, turning roads to ice as police from Barnsley were still helping drivers to recover vehicles.

"About a dozen lorry drivers stayed with their vehicles, which meant we could help them. Those that were abandoned meant the snow ploughs and gritters could not do their work," a police spokesman said.

In Bradford, the Anglican cathedral gave refuge to despairing travellers. In Leeds, the audience at West Yorkshire Playhouse emerged from the world premiere of a play called The Winter Guest to find themselves cut off. Playhouse staff decided the show must go on.

"Luvvies for Blizzard Relief" found camp beds for 300 and entertained them with a medley of musical hits until 3am. "The stars were marvellous," a Playhouse spokesman said. "They helped wherever they could, and kept everyone's spirits up."

Authors could have drawn inspiration from the diverse real- life cast assembled at the Wagon and Horses pub above Sheffield, where more than 100 stranded travellers spent the night.

"We had lorry drivers, school children who had come out for a walk, a party of physiotherapists from Manchester, and even one German," Rachel Batty, the landlady, said. "It was like New Year's Eve."

At Pendle, Lancashire, 22 children and three adults who had been at a ski school were brought to safety by a fell rescue team.

Public transport was widely disrupted on Wednesday night and roads were chaotic, with five-hour journeys commonplace for commuters accustomed to a 30-minute drive. The centres of Barnsley, Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds and Sheffield endured protracted gridlocks as the blizzard arrived in time for rush hour. Leeds motorists blamed gritters, who had concentrated their salt on high ground west of the city. In Sheffield, traffic was still trailing out of the city centre at 11pm. On the city's many steep hills, groups of enterprising youths charged 50p each for pushing slithering vehicles. Fashionable four-wheel drive vehicles were stuck in the jams with humble Fiestas and Cavaliers. Police said drivers of the 4x4s had ignored road closures, only to be thwarted by drifts - or abandoned Fiestas. On one of the main commuter roads out of Sheffield, drivers of motionless Range Rovers, Shoguns and Jeeps were taunted by youths singing: "You sad bastard, you've got f our wheel drive."

Suggested Topics
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape