News World Europe’s icy ordeal: The ‘Beast from the East’ isn’t done yet

Europe’s icy ordeal: The ‘Beast from the East’ isn’t done yet

This snow-stalled car in England is going nowhere fast, just like the rest of Europe.
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Can the weather can get more extreme, snowbound and wind-battered Europeans were wondering as what is being described as the worst storm in living memory wreaked havoc and claimed lives from Ireland to Poland and beyond?

The ‘Beast from East’, they dubbed it, imagining on Thursday that they had seen the worst of it.

Now they know better as blizzards, howling winds and lethal temperatures continue to take misery to a whole new level.

In Poland alone at least 20 people are known to have perished, with authorities setting up gas-fired heaters to help those sleeping rough to survive the cold.

Across Europe the known death toll has risen to more than 50, with officials fearing other victims may not be found until the snow banks are cleared.

To the east in France, four people died and another was injured in an avalanche when massive snowdrifts poured down the slopes and buried the cross-country ski tourists near Entraunes, close to the Italian border in the southern Alps.

Frozen-stiff upper lip: A Guardsman does his duty as Mother Nature does her worst outside Buckingham Palace. EPA/Neil Hall

In Holland, Amsterdam’s froze solid. Skaters were prepared to brave the cold by replacing the tourist boats that normally ply the Dutch capital’s waterways.

Across the Channel in England the army has been called out to rescue hundreds of drivers stuck in the snow and transport hospital workers to their jobs.

Roads and schools were closed and hundreds of flights cancelled.

For football fans there was no consolation in the comforts of a warm home and a televised match, as game after game was cancelled.

So far, 17 matches have been postponed, with that tally growing as officials survey snow-filled stadiums and follow weather forecasts promising little sign of immediate improvement.

Conditions in Scotland, which initially bore the brunt of the Siberian cold front, improved slightly, but the authorities warned people not to travel over the weekend as some 90cm of fresh snow blocked roads and sowed chaos.

EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga
A cab picks its way through the slippery streets of Birmingham. EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

Around 30 vehicles were stuck on a road near Aberdeen, the local council said, with many other roads closed due to snow drifts.

Residents along the Scottish border responded to calls for volunteers to help dig out roads where a number of motorists were known to be stranded.

In some cases, home-care nurses were visiting their patients as passengers on tractors driven by local farmers.

“In the current bad weather, I want to say thank you to everyone going the extra mile to keep our country moving – and to keep us safe,” British Prime Minister Theresa May said.

Pressed into service when Ireland’s entire transport network ground to a halt, this front-end loader battles a monster drift. AP/Niall Carson

And in Ireland the Beast from the East brought almost everything to halt, including the Dublin stock market which suspended trading when the extreme weather took down the nation’s entire public transport network.

Planes, trains and automobiles – none were working.

“It has shut everything apart from the pubs, thank God,” said Australian tourist Dave Smith, 28, from Brisbane.

As the death toll rises emergency shelters have been opened in many countries to help the homeless and citizens left stranded by disrupted transport services.

-with AAP

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