Snow and ice cause widespread disruption

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The Independent Online
SNOW and sub-zero temperatures caused widespread disruption across Britain and on the Continent yesterday as meteorologists predicted an end to the extreme winter conditions within days, writes Duncan Hamilton.

Worst hit by the freeze in Britain were the North of England, Scotland and Wales, where roads were closed as snow and ice caused several fatal accidents and scores of minor ones.

In Herefordshire, a motorist was killed when his Land Rover skidded out of control in icy conditions. On the A67 road at Barnard Castle, Co Durham, a gas engineer had a narrow escape when the van he was driving skidded off the road and turned over in a field. In Northumberland, police described conditions as 'horrendous'.

In Cumbria, the A6 was closed at Shap, in Scotland, the A939 between Ballater and Grantown-on-Spey was closed by fresh snow overnight and in North Yorkshire several main roads, including the A66 Scotch Corner to Penrith road, were closed for a time in spite of the efforts of 30 snow ploughs.

The AA advised motorists to be aware of the road conditions, drive with extreme caution and ensure that their vehicles were kept topped up with anti-freeze.

In France, nine people died as temperatures dropped to minus 15C. In Italy, Bari airport was closed and up to 3ft of snow covered much of the normally warm south of the country leaving four dead from exposure.

Icebreakers had to be used to keep the busy Rhine-Main-Danube canal open in southern Germany. Up to eight inches of ice was threatening to stop shipping on the vital trade route .

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