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Weather slows West European travel

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From Wire Reports
Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, 9:56 p.m.

LONDON — Hundreds of flights were canceled in Britain, France and Germany on Monday as snow and ice blanketed Western Europe.

London's Heathrow airport canceled about 130 flights, 10 percent of the daily total, compared to 20 percent on Sunday.

Flights have been disrupted since Friday at Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, where long lines and stranded passengers camped out on the floors of its terminals.

The atmosphere is finely balanced across southwestern areas of Britain, with some places seeing heavy rain and others receiving heavy snow on Tuesday,” said Met Office Chief Forecaster Martin Young said.

Heathrow said it has spent millions improving its winter resilience since the airport was virtually shut down by snow for several days in December 2010. But it says low visibility means it must leave bigger gaps between planes, triggering delays and cancelations.

London's second airport, Gatwick, said it was operating as normal on Monday morning but that delays and some flight cancellations were likely because of bad weather across Europe.

Forty percent of flights were canceled at Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in Paris.

Germany was experiencing long delays.

Frankfurt airport, Germany's largest, told the dpa news agency that more than 500 flights had been canceled because of icy conditions caused by freezing rain overnight.

In Munich, which saw more than 5 inches of snow overnight, another 200 flights were canceled, and long delays were expected at both airports.

In northern Germany, slick roads outside Berlin caused a stretch of a major highway to be closed during the Monday morning commute, and the high-speed train that runs through Brussels from Paris to In Belgium, three people died and two others were seriously injured when a minibus they were travelling in skidded off the road, overturned and caught fire at a motorway exit near Bruges, local authorities said.

One woman died in the southern English coastal town of Deal after collapsing in the snow.

Further snowfall was forecast for Frankfurt late Monday, with a spokesman for the city's airport telling AFP that it expected further disruption to flights on Tuesday.

British domestic trains and Eurostar services from France and Belgium to London also were disrupted, and hundreds of schools across Britain were closed.

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