France - 
Article published the Saturday 19 January 2013 - Latest update : Saturday 19 January 2013

Heavy snow blankets much of France

Kalvin Ng

By RFI

Heavy snow has fallen across much of France, causing several deadly accidents and traffic delays. The weather bureau says there is more snow to come this weekend.

Local authorities say three soldiers on their way to join colleagues departing for the French military operation in Mali were killed in an accident in the Massif Central mountainous area in southern France overnight on Friday.

A Spanish couple also died in a crash involving a truck and 10 cars on a motorway in the same region.

Near the central city of Tours, a driver died in icy rain on a motorway after his car hit an emergency vehicle attending to a minor accident.

In Savoie, in the Alps, a coach transporting Russians overturned on a motorway access road, injuring 20 people, three of them seriously.

Slideshow: Paris under snow
"La France renaissante" statue on the Bir-Hakeim bridge across the Seine in Paris

The French meteorology bureau, Météo France, has put 55 departments on alert.

It warns snow will continue to fall until the end of Sunday. On average, between three and 10 centimetres of snow, and up to 20 centimetres of snow locally, is expected.

Snow is also affecting the United Kingdom. The high-speed Eurostar train service has slowed down its trains, and cancelled two trains departing from London on Sunday.

The operator of Paris’ two main airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, has asked airlines to cancel a total of 40 percent of flights on Sunday.

Passengers have been urged to contact their airlines to find out whether their flights have been cancelled.

About 100 passengers on a Ryanair flight to Pisa in Italy said they had to spend Friday night in Beauvais airport, north of Paris, after their flight was cancelled.

On Saturday, the Chateau of Versailles park was closed due to heavy snowfall, and residents of Paris woke to see the city dusted in a thick covering of snow.

tags: Airplane - Airport - Cold - France - Snow - Traffic - Weather - Winter
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