Image: A man rides a sleigh in the Kolomenskoe park on the bank of the Moskva River
Mikhail Metzel  /  AP
A man rides a sleigh in the Kolomenskoe park on the bank of the Moskva River on the outskirts of Moscow on Sunday. Icy rain shout down Moscow's main airport and covered streets with ice.
updated 12/26/2010 11:51:52 AM ET 2010-12-26T16:51:52

Icy rain on Sunday shut down Moscow's largest airport for nearly 15 hours, coated roads with ice and left more than 300,000 people and 14 hospitals without electricity in winter.

The rain struck the city Saturday night. Workers are scrambling to restore the power supply after heavy ice snapped power lines, Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry said.

Moscow's Domodedovo airport closed Sunday morning after it lost power. No planes were allowed to land or take off for 15 hours until the airport opened for outbound flights to several domestic destinations. The airport's full power supply has not been restored yet.

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At least 13 flights had already taken off, civil aviation chief Alexander Neradko said on state-run Rossiya 24 TV.

Moscow's other two major airports, Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo, remained open but experienced severe delays.

Moscow motorists woke up to find their cars covered with an inch of ice. Power lines across the region, loaded down with ice, snapped at the slightest touch, disrupting public transport and suburban trains.

Health officials urged Moscow residents to stay indoors and not to risk walking on the city's icy streets.

Unlike the rest of Europe, Moscow had no airport delays last week due to winter weather.

In Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, polar swimmers took part Sunday in the traditional Christmas swim in the Vltava River.

Several European airports were hit by weather problems in the eastern United States.

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London's Heathrow Airport was open Sunday, but warned on its website of flight cancellations and delays due to bad weather in the U.S. Fifteen British Airways flights out of Heathrow to the U.S. were canceled, including ones to New York's JFK airport, Newark, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington Dulles airport.

In Paris, five flights leaving for JFK from Charles de Gaulle airport were canceled Sunday, along with three flights to Newark and one bound for Philadelphia,

The cancellations came as the Paris airport was finally getting back to normal Sunday after a snowstorm and severe shortages of deicing fluid left thousands of people stranded. Hundreds of people spent Christmas Eve sleeping on airport floors in Paris and Brussels.

Tour boat operators halted cruises on the Seine River in Paris because of unusually high waters following heavy snowfall.

Flight to the eastern U.S. were also canceled from Stockholm and Oslo.

Frankfurt airport, continental Europe's second biggest hub, on Sunday reported only two cancelations, flights to JFK and Newark. Munich reported only one cancellation, a Lufthansa flight to Newark.

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