Snow and bitter cold bring travel chaos in Germany

BERLIN (AFP) – Thousands of drivers were left stranded in freezing traffic jams in Germany as the heaviest snowfall in years brought travel chaos across the country.

Traffic on the A2 motorway near the city of Bielefeld was brought to a standstill by heavy snowfall, with some drivers trapped for at least 16 hours, according to media reports.

The jam caused by lorries stuck in the snow and stretching over 37 kilometres had still not been cleared by early yesterday morning, local police said.

Video footage showed shivering drivers huddled in their vehicles, complaining of going for hours without food as temperatures plunged to minus 12 degrees Celsius.

Severe jams were also reported in other parts of the country including Hesse, where some drivers were stuck in their cars for 15 hours, according to police.

Police officers guarding the perimeter get covered in snow as an ADAC medical rescue helicopter takes off from Bayerischer Platz in Berlin’s Schoeneberg district. PHOTO: AFP

Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer has asked residents to avoid getting in their vehicles until today at the earliest.

Northern and eastern Germany in particular were pummelled by snow on Sunday and Monday night, with blizzard-like conditions and some of the coldest temperatures seen in years.

In Bielefeld, a man was found dead on a snow-covered road on Monday, though emergency services said initial findings suggested he had suffered a medical emergency.

Train services across the country have seen severe delays and cancellations due to the winter weather, with snow and ice clogging the rails.

Snowfall is expected to decrease in the coming days, according to forecasters, but temperatures of up to minus 18 degrees will mean travel conditions remain hazardous.

With the wind chill factor, temperatures could feel as low as minus 30 degrees at night, forecasters have said.