Weather forces airport closures, cancellations
Icy conditions and heavy snowfalls forced the closure on Sunday of Düsseldorf airport – Germany’s third largest – and also caused havoc at the key transport hub of Frankfurt.
Many flights at Frankfurt, which is Germany’s largest airport and a hub for Europe, were cancelled or redirected, a spokeswoman for the airport said. She added that the airport was expecting snowfalls until Sunday evening, causing further disruption.
By the early afternoon, at least 50 flights had been cancelled at Frankfurt, and 15 others had been redirected to Stuttgart or Munich. These were partly due to changes to flight plans
The temperature fell to -30 degrees Celsius in parts of Germany overnight, while the average temperatures across the country on Sunday languished around -10 to -15 degrees.
A police spokesman in Düsseldorf said: “Air traffic has been halted since this morning” and added he did not know when the airport would reopen.
The airport's website offered stricken passengers an information hotline.
Meanwhile, a 46-year-old homeless man froze to death overnight in the southwestern city of Mannheim while sleeping on the bare pavement exposed to sub-zero temperatures, police said.
Authorities reported hundreds of car accidents throughout the country, including two women killed in separate collisions in the north due to icy conditions.
By Sunday afternoon, at least six people had been killed because of the cold snap.
As the brutal weather gripping Europe caused transport chaos, it emerged that German model Claudia Schiffer was among about 2000 passengers stranded for hours on Eurostar trains in the channel tunnel between Paris and London.
British media reports claimed other passengers were furious that Schiffer was given preferential treatment in getting out of the tunnel, ahead of children and disabled passengers.
Despite the frosty weather, large parts of Germany can't expect a white Christmas, according to the German Weather Service, which said warmer temperatures and rain were on the way.