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Last Updated: Friday, 9 February 2007, 20:36 GMT
Weather causes gridlock on roads
Birmingham city centre
Cars were stuck in Birmingham city centre
Roads were gridlocked across the West Midlands on Friday evening as a severe weather warning remained in place.

Birmingham city centre was at a standstill and Birmingham International Airport's runway shut for three hours.

About 250 cars were abandoned between Hereford and Worcester on the A4103 and Arriva Midlands suspended bus services in Shrewsbury and Telford.

Forecasters had predicted that up to 6in (15cm) of snow could fall on Friday evening.

More than 15 miles of queuing traffic was stuck on the M5, between J4 and the M6 link, when the evening rush hour started early.

Cars in Malvern
Traffic in Malvern was badly affected by the weather

People abandoning cars on the Hereford to Worcester road headed on foot for the British Legion club on the Bosbury Road at Cradley.

Traffic was at a standstill in Malvern, Worcestershire, because of jack-knifed lorries, and there was also chaos on the Ombersley to Kidderminster road.

Police said there were reports of minor accidents and fallen trees causing disruption across Shropshire.

Drivers on the A442 on either side of Bridgnorth suffered delays of more than two hours.

In Birmingham, police urged people only to come through the city centre if it was absolutely unavoidable.

They stressed motorists should not leave their vehicles if they became stuck or had an accident, and junctions or roads should be kept clear for emergency vehicles to get through.

Katie Smith, who left her car in Birmingham city centre to walk home, said: "It was just chaos - bumper to bumper traffic.

"Cars were skidding all over the place, people pushing cars that had broken down. Some of those people are in for a very long journey home."

West Midlands Ambulance Service admitted its ability to respond to 999 calls was affected.

It put out a statement, which said: "We urgently need any assistance to try and reduce the number of 999 calls for less serious types of incidents.

"We are still getting calls (to) the likes of stubbed toes and minor cuts and bruising."

A supermarket home delivery van on a road in Ironbridge
A supermarket home delivery van struggled in Shropshire

About 2,000 people across Herefordshire and Worcestershire have been without power.

Flights at BIA, both in and out of the airport, were suspended at 1630 GMT, but were restored at about 1930 GMT.

Teams used sweeping, blowing and ploughing equipment to make taking off and landing safe.

Central Trains said services were running as normal.

A spokesman said there had been delays between Birmingham and Hereford after a lorry hit a bridge near Hereford.

Virgin said its half-hourly service from Birmingham New Street to London was restored during the afternoon, after being hourly.

Ironbridge, Shropshire

All council-run schools in Birmingham and Worcestershire were closed for a second day on Friday.

Meanwhile, West Midlands Ambulance Service has warned young people to keep off ice after an 11-year-old fell through a thin layer over a lake in Selly Oak.

A spokesman said: "He had only just got on to the ice when it collapsed under him and he went into water up to his waist. Fortunately he was able to get out himself and was only in the water for a few seconds."

The ambulance service also warned about the dangers of sledging after they received seven calls to Beacon Hill at Lickey Hills in Rednal, Birmingham.

One paramedic was hit in the face by a snowboarder as she treated a patient.

In a separate incident firefighters saved a Labrador named Jess after it had fallen through ice into a canal in Newport, Shropshire.




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