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Europe expecting more snow after travel chaos

Severe winter weather caused chaos at airports across Europe with airlines only just starting to recover on Tuesday.
Airport Chaos Continues As the The Christmas Getaway Begins
A jet departs Luton airport in England on Tuesday. Scotland and northern England were told to expect more snow through Wednesday. Oli Scarff / Getty Images
/ Source: staff and news service reports

Travelers across Europe were trying to get to their destinations Tuesday after heavy snow caused chaos over the weekend and Monday. To make matters worse, forecasters predicted more snow and ice into Wednesday.

Wintry storms and freezing weather over the last week have caused nearly 100 deaths across Europe, including at least 42 in Poland, 27 in Ukraine and 12 people in France. Many of those who died were homeless people who froze to death.

Another 13 people died in car accidents in Austria, Finland and Germany, where temperatures dropped well below zero.

In Britain, airports were recovering Tuesday from a backlog but travelers were warned there could be new delays and cancellations.

16,000 cars stuck in Britain
Roads were also severely hit with Britain's AA breakdown service reporting a record 16,000 vehicles stuck or in accidents on Monday. Major roads across Europe were blocked in areas with heavy snow, some up to 20 inches.

Britain's weather service forecast more snow across Scotland and northern England on Tuesday night and into Wednesday. "It will be very cold and icy with a locally severe frost and some areas of freezing fog," it added.

In Italy, heavy snowstorms and freezing temperatures left thousands of train passengers stranded at railway stations or on carriages, often without heating, according to Italian news reports. Hundreds of flights have been canceled as well.

Italian national carrier Alitalia restarted flights from Milan's Linate airport, while the bigger Malpensa airport resumed flights in early afternoon after disruptions.

In Germany, where more snow was expected Wednesday, flights in and out of Frankfurt International Airport resumed Tuesday after snow and ice left 8,000 passengers stranded inside terminals or in nearby hotels.

In the Netherlands, about 400 stranded passengers spent the night at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on improvised beds.

Eurostar trains were canceled after 2,500 people were trapped for up to 16 hours on Saturday in the undersea Channel Tunnel with no power, air conditioning, food or water — bringing a storm of anger down on the company.

A limited service resumed on Tuesday when a Eurostar train left London's St. Pancras International station at 7:41 a.m. heading for Paris. An earlier train had set off in the other direction from Gare du Nord station in Paris with about 1,000 passengers still queuing for later trains.

Some among about 500 people queuing at St Pancras shouted at Eurostar staff, complaining about a lack of information.

Eurostar said that it was clearing the backlog quicker than expected and invited customers with tickets for Tuesday to head to the station in the hope of getting them moving.

Eurostar, owned by the French and Belgian state railway firms and by Britain, has given priority to passengers with tickets from previous days.

A Eurostar spokesman said its backlog was "considerably" less than 40,000 because some had flown home. Others returned by coach or ferry.

He admitted the company had taken some "reputational damage" over the last couple of days, but he blamed "a unique combination of climatic conditions in northern France" and ice.

When the trains entered the warm tunnel, a huge amount of condensation built up, causing a short-circuit, he said.

France's government doubted the cold was the sole reason and has ordered an investigation.