Winter Woes Storm 'Daisy' Brings Snow Chaos to Europe

A weekend of snow, ice and heavy winds brought large parts of Europe to a standstill and was continuing to cause flight and train delays on Monday. Some villages in northern Germany are still cut off after huge snowdrifts made roads impassable.

Schools were kept closed in large parts of northern Germany on Monday and there were further delays in air and rail transport after winter storm "Daisy" caused transport chaos in much of Europe over the weekend.

A spokesman for Frankfurt airport, Germany's biggest, said passengers should expect further cancellations and delays to flights on Monday. More than 300 flights were cancelled over the weekend because of heavy snowfalls, affecting some 60,000 passengers. Thousands had to spend Saturday night on camp beds in the airport or in hotels nearby.

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Photo Gallery: Battling Mountains of Snow
On Monday, many villages along Germany's Baltic coast were still cut off because roads had been made impassable by high snowdrifts.

On Germany's Baltic island of Fehmarn, some 5,000 residents were shut in by the blizzards, while scores were trapped in their cars for hours on the A20 coastal motorway on Saturday night because normal snow ploughs could not reach them. Several passenger trains got stuck in the snow. In the city of Anklam, near the Polish border, rescue teams freed a train carrying 14 passengers that was stuck in drifts.

The weather caused over 1,100 road accidents between Saturday and Sunday morning in North Rhine-Westphalia alone, Germany's most populous state, according to the regional government.

Ferry services across the Baltic to Scandinavia were cancelled, and rough sea swells led to the flooding of several streets in the coastal cities of Flensburg and Lübeck.

Winter Freeze Causes 100 Deaths in Europe

In south-eastern France, almost 1,000 people at a snowbound airport in Lyon spent the night on waiting room armchairs or camp beds after flights in and out of the city were halted on Saturday night. Flights resumed gradually on Sunday.

In southern Poland, about 80,000 people were without electricity on Sunday after snow-laden masts cracked, damaging several power lines. In the Netherlands, some 100,000 households were temporarily without power.

Some 100 people have died in Europe as a result of the severe weather conditions in recent weeks. In Britain, which is suffering its worst winter in more than three decades, at least 26 people have died. Gas consumption there has reached record levels.

Economic Impact

In Germany, snow could hit economic output to the tune of billions of euros because construction activity has ground to a halt, the chief economist of the German Association of Chambers of Industry and Commerce, Volker Treier, told Bild newspaper.

"The cold weather could wreck the start of the growth year 2010," Treier said. The shutdown of many construction sites in the wintry weather was also hurting suppliers of building materials and related industries like scaffolding firms and the painting and decorating trades, he said. "If something doesn't change soon, we'll lose around €2 billion ($2.9 billion) in output in the construction sector in the first quarter," Treier said. The loss would be equivalent to 0.4 percent of total GDP in the first quarter, he added.

Suppliers of road salt are profiting from the weather, though, because the price has more than doubled to around €140 ($200) per tonne in some cases as a result of growing shortages, making it more expensive than coal. Raw materials experts are predicting the price could hit €200 if wintry conditions go on much longer.

German group K+S is Germany's biggest supplier of road salt and stands to profit heavily from the harsh winter. Its share price leapt as much as 9 percent on one day last week.

cro -- with wire reports

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