‘Miriam’ wreaks winter havoc

‘Miriam’ wreaks winter havoc
Photo: DPA
The winter storm “Miriam” created chaotic traffic conditions across Germany on Wednesday, as the military used helicopters to bring food and supplies to the Baltic Sea island of Hiddensee.

Many roads in Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and the northern part of the country were closed, as cleaning crews worked against treacherous driving conditions caused by snow and ice. Schools were also shut in Schleswig-Holstein and parts of Lower Saxony.

A military helicopter carrying a tonne of food made its way Wednesday morning to the island of Hiddensee, which has been cut off from the mainland due to ice in the Baltic Sea for several days. A second chopper was expected to carry 60 holidaymakers off the island later in the day. With the island’s icebreaker out of service, the regional authorities are preparing an extended airlift.

The Bureau for Waterways and Shipping (WSA) revealed that it would make no further attempt to clear a path to Hiddensee, because the ice has become so thick that other icebreakers would run the risk of getting stuck in the water.

In Bavaria, heavy snow has also caused many roofs to cave in under the weight. Areas most affected included the Oberpfalz and Lower Bavaria, though no one has been injured. In Memmingen in the Allgäu region, three gym halls were closed as a precautionary measure.

In Attendorn in Saarland, a man was seriously injured in his car, when the roof of a commercial building collapsed nearby on Tuesday evening. Around a total of 100 halls were closed in around Wuppertal.

Snow and black ice presented drivers with massive problems in parts of North Rhine-Westphalia. Between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning there were 751 accidents, which left six people seriously injured and 39 slightly. According to the police, man side roads in particular are still being cleared.

In the Sauerland, the traffic was obstructed by numerous trucks fitted only with summer tyres. As a result, a traffic jam stretched up to 25 kilometres on the A45 motorway. Aid workers distributed blankets and hot drinks to drivers.

Snow, rain and storm also led to considerable disturbances in parts of Saxony-Anhalt. Roads were impassable in the region around Hettstadt, forcing 142 people stuck in their vehicles to be temporarily put up for the night. But a spokesman for the police claimed that the situation had since returned to normal.

In Dannenberg in Lower Saxony a 36-year-old motorist was killed in an accident after the man’s vehicle crashed into a truck on the icy stretch of road.

Meteorologists expect the snow and freezing rain to continue in the southern half of the country heading into Thursday. While the east will remain frosty, the southwest could finally begin to thaw out a little in the coming days.

Click here for The Local’s weather forecast.

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