Bad weather caused havoc in traffic throughout the weekend in Romania. Winter storm left thousands of tourists stranded in European airports.
Heavy snowfall took over Romania on Friday, causing traffic nightmare for many early Christmas tourists but also for the every-day commuters. Mostly affected by bad weather and dropping temperatures were the southern and western parts of the country. Blizzards have caused a chain of dozens of traffic incidents on Friday. In Galati, 17 passengers of a minibus were seriously injured after the vehicle crashed against a tree. Another minibus skidded and overturned on Bucharest-Pitesti Highway, injuring several people. Another incident involved a bus with 20 schoolchildren and an ambulance in Tulcea County. Overall, there were 26 incidents only on Friday, mostly caused by low visibility due to the fog and massive snowfalls.
After easing up on Saturday, traffic became a nightmare again yesterday afternoon, especially on routes linking to winter resorts, as weekend tourists attempted to get back home. According to latest data from traffic police, yesterday afternoon several areas throughout the country were jammed, especially in Covasna, Sibiu, Dambovita and on access routes to Brasov, due to recent snow falling and an increase in traffic participants. Several alternate routes were offered as an alternative to escape havoc, from Sinaia, Targoviste and Brasov.
Also, yesterday afternoon, in Maramures, Arad and Bistrita counties, low visibility and a new wave of snow falling caused the vehicles to drive at 30, 40 kilometres per hour. Most of the drivers in western areas complained about lack of intervention from authorities. Among other incidents caused by bad traffic one tragedy occurred in Constanta County on Friday, claiming the life of a todler. According to police info, quoted by Agerpres, a two month old baby in Topraisar Village suddenly fell sick with respiratory failure, parents called for an ambulance but the emergency team could not access the area due to heavy snow.
By the time an ambulance, helped by fire-fighters and other local emergency teams got to him, the boy had died. An investigation is underway to establish how the incident happened but, according to Antena 3, the medical team response was quick, deploying two ambulances in the area, the only impediment being a meter high blanket of snow which prevented them from reaching the sick infant in time. According to first forensic data revealed by Agerpres, “the boy died of respiratory failure brought by severe pneumonia and malnutrition.”
Elsewhere, in Oradea County, freezing cold killed a homeless man on Saturday evening, Antena 3 informs. The 60 year old was found lifeless in an abandoned building in Oradea.
SNOW GROUNDS THOUSANDS OF EUROPEAN FLIGHTS, STRANDING PASSENGERS
A Siberian air mass brought snow and cold Saturday to much of Europe, disrupting air traffic, halting high-speed trains and grounding dozens of flights. Officials at London’s Heathrow announced Saturday night the airport would be closed until late on Sunday evening after delaying flights earlier in the day. Gatwick had been closed earlier in the day, but began allowing flights after clearing 4 inches of snow from the runways. Thousands of passengers remained stranded on the airport. Among them, a dozen Romanians who were to embark on a Tarom flight to Bucharest. The flight was cancelled, according to a spokesperson for the national air carrier, and the passengers were to be placed on the first flight on Monday morning. “Heathrow closing down affected about 187 passengers supposed to get to Romania on that flight. Due to the fact that tens of other flights were put on hold, the airport and surrounding lodging possibilities were exceeded yesterday and we intend to support all additional costs with lodging,” a Tarom Company spokesperson told Agerpes.
While Britain and Ireland were hardest hit, frigid temperatures blanketed the continent, CNN reported. Thousands of people were stuck at major airports such as Frankfurt, Germany, and Schiphol in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and hundreds at the train station in Florence in northern Italy. Officials from Frankfurt International Airport, the largest in Germany, announced Sunday that at least 302 flights – 146 outbound and 156 inbound – would be cancelled. Further disruptions are possible, the airport spokesman said, partly depending on how other airports cope with the weather. Frankfurt was forced to cancel 272 flights on Saturday Europe’s busiest airports are cancelling hundreds of flights Sunday in the face of “freak weather conditions” after several inches of snow were dumped on the continent over the weekend. More snow was expected in Germany during the day, which will put further strain on flight schedules, spokesman Waltraud Riehemann told CNN. Forecasters say the Western Europe Kingdom will remain in the grip of bitter winter weather at least through Monday. Temperatures across the continent were up to 10 degrees below average, according to CNN. The weather affected every aspect of life. A rugby match in France between Glasgow and Toulouse was postponed from Saturday until Sunday, and then delayed again because the Scottish team’s equipment was still in transit, Sky News reported. Belgian authorities closed the highways to large trucks late Friday, forcing many drivers to spend the night parked by the roadside. In Bulgaria, the port, airport and major highway into and out of Varna on the Black Sea were all closed for about 4 hours Friday. In Italy, snow fell Friday in Rome and even on the island of Capri in the Bay of Naples, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. CNN said two deaths in the country were blamed on the weather, a truck driver killed in a crash and a man who collapsed from a fatal heart attack while shoveling snow around his house.