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Monday, 17 December, 2001, 15:13 GMT
Europe battles snow and floods
Stranded vehicles on the outskirts of Barcelona
Spanish motorways were brought to a standstill
Snow, floods and high winds have swept across parts of southern Europe, bringing havoc to transport and trade and leaving tens of thousands of people without power.


Greece is a melting pot at the moment - the cold air of the storm is meeting the warm air of the Mediterranean

Meteorologist Alan Goodman
Greece was continuing to suffer appalling weather on Monday, said meteorologists, with airports, major roads and schools closed as the storm lashed the country for a third day.

Parts of Turkey, Bulgaria, Spain, Switzerland, France and Italy have also been badly hit.

A state of emergency was declared in parts of Greece, where temperatures have fallen to as low as -10C.

The storm swept south from Russia last Thursday and Friday, sending temperatures falling to -22C in parts of Poland.

Storm coldspots since Friday
-8C Venice, Italy
-10C Turin, Italy
-10C Madrid, Spain
-16C Novi Sad, Yugoslavia
-19C Ljubljana, Slovenia
-22C Bialystok, Poland
-22C Garmisch, Germany
Snow fell across a huge area from Spain to Bulgaria, but the storm has now halted over Greece, where it continues to cause chaos.

"Greece is a melting pot at the moment - the cold air of the storm is meeting the warm air of the Mediterranean," said Alan Goodman of the UK's national Meteorological Office.

"It is almost keeping itself going. There is some very, very nasty weather in Greece at the moment."

Man fishing in frozen Black Sea
In Bulgaria, parts of the Black Sea froze
The daytime temperature in Thessaloniki was -3C on Monday, he said, with heavy snow still falling.

All northern airports were closed on Monday, including Thessaloniki's international airport.

And children living in the north-west stayed at home, after all schools were closed.

Much more snow will fall in Greece before the storm begins to ease slowly over the next 24 hours, said Mr Goodman, who described the storm as a "good old-fashioned winter cold snap".

In southern Greece, two people were swept away by a swollen river in Patras as they tried to move their car.

Man with Christmas tree in Thessaloniki
Greece has been among the hardest hit
Hundreds of homes in the same region were also flooded, and officials struggled to reconnect power to residents who had lost electricity supplies.

On the island of Cephallonia - made famous by the novel Captain Correlli's Mandolin - strong winds damaged trees and homes.

Up to six people were feared dead as floods and power cuts hit parts of Turkey.

One woman died as she tried to recover her car from floods in the Aegean port of Izmir, where armoured personnel carriers had to be used to rescue trapped residents.

Countries hit
Greece - snow, floods, power cuts continuing Monday
Turkey - up to seven feared dead in floods
Italy - storm clouds building up, snow in Venice
France - Corsican villages cut off
Spain - roads closed, motorists trapped on Sunday
Bulgaria - Black Sea port of Varna closed, main roads shut
Another woman drowed in the town of Kumluca, near Antalya, and a family of five were swept away in their car in the southern village of Kirkkavak.

In Bulgaria, the country's biggest Black Sea port, Varna, was closed early on Monday as the snow and winds lashed the area.

Officials told the Reuters news agency the port had closed at around midnight on Sunday and would remain shut until weather conditions improved.

Two main roads into Greece and Turkey were also closed. In Spain, heavy snow at the weekend left the north-eastern regional of Catalonia virtually cut off from the rest of Spain.

Firefighters and the army were called in to rescue up to 200 motorists who got trapped on major roads, including the N11 and A11.

Dozens of lorry drivers were reported to be stuck in the Bruc tunnel in Barcelona province.

On Sunday, 28 major roads were blocked, and some rail services were suspended.

More than 30,000 homes in the area were without power.

Venice snow

In France, the snow storms have swept along the Mediterranean coast, leaving towns from Provence to Languedoc-Roussillon covered in snow.

Officials on the island of Corsica said nearly a dozen villages remained cut off on Monday, four days after the snow first hit.

Nearly 4,000 homes on the island still were without electricity, they said, and 2,500 had no telephone connection.

Italy has also been hit, with snow in Venice and freezing conditions elsewhere. Forecasters say storm clouds were still building on Monday.

The UK escaped unscathed from the storms, although forecasters believe a storm may affect parts of the country this weekend.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Peter Hunt
"A beautiful but hazardous European landscape"
See also:

17 Dec 01 | Europe
In pictures: Frozen Europe
07 Nov 01 | Health
Cold homes 'killing elderly'
04 Nov 99 | Sci/Tech
Europe's climate forecast is hot
18 Mar 99 | Health
Cold 'killing 50,000' each winter
06 Sep 01 | Glasgow 2001
Big freeze for Britain?
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