8 Jan 2009

Freezing weather continues over Europe

7:19 am on 8 January 2009

Temperatures plunged to record lows in Germany as freezing winter weather continued over much of Europe on Wednesday.

A weather station in the eastern state of Saxony said the coldest spot was -27.7 degrees Celsius.

Thick snow has covered much of the country and icebreakers were at work on several waterways, including the River Elbe in eastern Germany.

Port authorities in the Dutch city of Rotterdam deployed an icebreaking ship for the first time 12 years.

Heavy snow forced the closure of an international airport at Marseille - which is normally sunny - after 40 cm of snow fell in the region.

Temperatures dropped as low as -16 degrees Celsius in northern France.

Forecasters in Britain have issued a new severe weather warning.

In Albania, remote areas were blocked by heavy snow and isolated villages were being supplied with food by helicopters.

The impact of the weather has been worsened by cuts in gas supplies to southeastern Europe as a result of a contract dispute between Russia and Ukraine.