<<Millions of Europeans have been caught up in chaos caused by heavy snow, freezing temperatures and high winds following the coldest start to December since records began. Harsh conditions ground much of the continent's transport network to a halt and caused several deaths.
In Poland temperatures fell to -26C, leading to eight deaths from exposure, on top of several other cold-related deaths in recent days.
Almost the whole of Germany woke up to heavy snow this morning, which caused gridlock on roads and railway lines throughout the country. Hundreds of commuters were stranded at railway stations as conditions were deemed too severe for German trains to run.
At Leipzig and Frankfurt scores of passengers had to sleep in railway carriages as hotels ran out of room after train journeys were cancelled because of snow drifts.
Three people died in accidents on icy roads in Germany, while an undisclosed number were said to have died in other parts of central Europe because of exposure or traffic accidents.
Prague airport closed overnight following the heavy snow that gripped the whole of the Czech Republic.
More than 400 miles of traffic jams were reported in Belgium, with Flanders badly hit. Thousands of motorists were trapped in their cars in Brittany and Normandy, and 10,000 lorries were brought to a standstill as parts of France also faced harsh conditions. Hundreds of homes in central France were left without electricity after power cuts.
Elsewhere police were warning members of the public to inform them of the whereabouts of homeless people after two homeless men died in Lithuania.
Across the continent travellers were being advised to rethink travel plans or allow extra time for their journeys. Geneva airport, where 200 passengers were given emergency accommodation and a further 100 slept at the airport, was advising passengers to arrive two hours before the departure time of their flights and to leave motor vehicles at home where possible.
Meteorologists forecast that the snowy and freezing conditions would continue for several days due to the slow eastwardly movement of a low-pressure front over western Europe.
On northern Germany's Brocken mountain, at 1,142 metres one of the country's highest peaks, temperatures fell to -18C while winds of up to 62mph led to an apparent air temperature of -50C. Up to a metre of snow fell on Germany's highest peak, the Zugspitze, with more snow expected overnight.>>