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Bitter cold in Europe kills 8, delays air traffic

GENEVA — Heavy snow and subzero temperatures swept across Europe, killing at least eight homeless people in Poland, closing major airports in Britain and Switzerland and causing hundreds of highway accidents.

Gatwick, London's second largest airport, and Geneva, a major hub for low-cost carrier Easyjet, were forced to shut down Wednesday as staff struggled to clear runways of snow. Edinburgh Airport in Scotland, Leeds Airport in northern England and Chambery and Grenoble in southeastern France also were closed.

In Poland, police said eight men died Tuesday night after a bitter cold front roared in, with temperatures falling to around minus 4 Fahrenheit. Police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski said the men had been drinking. The eastern Polish city of Bialystok hit minus 15 F on Tuesday night.

Winter weather caused some 2,000 accidents on German roads Tuesday, officials said.

In northern Austria, police said a 69-year-old retiree froze to death overnight when he slipped on a snow-covered bridge on his way home from a funeral and lost consciousness.

France's DGAC civil aviation authority asked airlines to cancel 25 percent of scheduled flights out of Charles de Gaulle Airport and 10 percent of flights out of Orly Airport in Paris today. The authority on Wednesday urged passengers flying out of the airports to check with their airlines.

Officials at Gatwick, south of London, said the airport would remain closed until early today.

Bitter cold in Europe kills 8, delays air traffic 12/01/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:26pm]
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