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Severe Winter Weather Batters Europe

Lisa Bryant

Severe winter weather has hit Europe, canceling flights and trains and causing several dozen deaths. 

Winter storms and plunging temperatures have created an avalanche of transportation problems in Europe as many people prepare to travel for end-of-year holidays.

A breakdown of train service by cross-English channel operator Eurostar has left thousands of people stranded in Paris, London and Brussels. Five Eurostar trains broke down over the weekend, leaving customers who were on them stuck inside for hours.

The French government has launched an investigation into the breakdown, And French President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered Eurostar to resume service Tuesday

Earlier, Eurostar executive Nicolas Petrovic predicted limited service would likely resume on Tuesday.

Petrovic told France-Info radio that Eurostar wants the transportation to resume smoothly and everything to go well.  He said full service could resume after Christmas.

But that has not stopped passengers from grumbling.

One French man, Vincent, told French radio that he and other passengers were stuck overnight in a Eurostar train . He said passengers were irate and nobody was taking care of them.  The French government has launched an investigation into the breakdown, with one French minister, Jean-Louis Borloo, describing Eurostar's treatment of its customers as "unbelievable."

Bad weather has walloped other European countries.  Heavy snowfall forced Germany's Duesseldorf airport to close.  Travelers in Belgian, Dutch and French airports also faced flight delays and icy conditions sparked a slowdown on the Belgium-Italy rail route.

More than 30 people have died from the cold in Poland, Austria and Germany in recent days.  Most of the deaths, at least 29, have occurred in Poland, where temperatures fell as low as -20 degrees Celsius during the weekend.

Road accidents due to icy weather killed roughly a dozen others in Finland, France, Germany and Austria.
 

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