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EDITIONS
Friday, 31 January, 2003, 05:29 GMT
Snow and gales cause travel chaos
A snow plough on the North Yorkshire moors
Snow ploughs have been out on many roads
Raging blizzards and high winds are causing chaos in much of the UK.

The bad weather closed Stansted airport for the night, with passengers taken off planes.

Driving conditions quickly became treacherous and the train network was also badly affected.

Stranded commuters
In London, many workers were unable to get home for hours as the streets became gridlocked and severe delays hit the Tube.

Services on large stretches of five lines were suspended, with the situation exacerbated by the closure of the Central and the Waterloo and City lines following the derailment at Chancery Lane on Saturday.

Snow was causing dangerous conditions on platforms in outdoor stations as well as problems with trains.

At Stansted, a spokesman said conditions were too "dangerous" to allow flights to continue.

It's complete chaos here; many flights have been cancelled and there is no-one giving any information about the situation

Sarah Aldous
Heathrow passenger
"The runway is clear but the apron areas are far too icy," he said.

The extreme weather conditions also caused significant disruption to BA flights in and out of Heathrow and Gatwick, with a large number of services cancelled.

BBC News Online's Sarah Aldous was one of thousands caught up in delays of more than 12 hours at Heathrow.

"It's complete chaos here; many flights have been cancelled and there is no-one giving any information about the situation," she said.

"I met a couple whose flight was supposed to leave for New York on Thursday morning and they are still here at 3am on Friday.

"People are getting irate and have been haranguing baggage handlers because there seems to be no-one else around."

Power cuts

In the east of Lincolnshire 10,000 people were left without heating and light, and around 30 schools closed early.

In Surrey, a girl was killed and six other children injured when a tree fell in the grounds of a primary school, although it is not yet clear if the heavy weather was directly to blame.

Dog walker in snow
A dog walker fights through the snow
Forecasters have warned that the blizzards will bring up to 15cms of snow in some areas, with the wind chill taking the overnight temperatures as low as minus 16C.

Snowploughs have been struggling to keep roads open, with many short journeys taking hours and drivers being warned to take extra care in the treacherous conditions.

The terrible conditions in eastern England and Scotland caused traffic accidents.

Police in the Grampians escorted cars off the A90 in convoys of 30, after some became stuck in the "horrendous" conditions and a 12-mile traffic jam developed.

Schools closed

Elsewhere on the roads major problems were seen on the M6 in both directions around Birmingham.

And visibility was bad on the M4 due to the heavy snow showers.

A crash involving a lorry near the junction with the M5 was the worst of a series of accidents.

About 120 schools were either closed or open only for children who were not dependent on school transport. All schools in Orkney were also closed.

Conditions south of Aberdeen were particularly bad. Several drivers got stranded in drifting snow on the A92 and a snow plough also got stuck for a period.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Samantha Simmonds
"Hundreds of passengers are still stranded at Heathrow and Gatwick airports"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
A snow plough passes an abandoned car near Fylingdales, North Yorkshire Snow storm
Your experiences of the extreme conditions

Heavy snow swept across Britain today, with northern England badly affected
Shivering in the snow

See also:

31 Jan 03 | England
29 Jan 03 | UK
15 Jan 03 | Scotland
09 Jan 03 | UK
09 Jan 03 | England
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