France

Snow continues to fall on France, stops European Mali hearing

Amanda Morrow

The weekend’s heavy snow forced French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to cancel a meeting on Mali at the European parliament Monday. More snow was predicted after a weekend of traffic chaos but Paris’s airports said their runways were clear and ready to function.

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Fabius had been due to explain France’s go-it-alone intervention in Mali to the European parliament’s foreign affairs committee on Monday. But the parliament’s website announced that the encounter was cancelled because of the weather.

Fabius was due to go to Brussels by train but snow has caused major delays for the Thalys service that links the French and Belgian capitals.

There was more snowfall on Monday afternoon in much of France, notably the Paris region and the Loire valley, but transport was less disrupted than expected after a weekend in which seven people, including three soldiers on their way to fight in Mali, died on the roads.

Traffic flow on main roads in Ile de France was good, according to police, while public transport officials said that the network was functioning “better than expected”.

No buses ran on Sunday, with many drivers unable to report for duty and depots snowed in but over 75 per cent were running on Monday morning, they said.

Delays of 20-40 minutes were expected for TGV high-speed trains, for safety reasons, but 97 per cent of other trains were on time.

After cancelling 40 per cent of flights in and out of Paris’s Orly and Charles De Gaulle airports, officials said that, the snow having stopped, remaining traffic could be handled.

In other weather news:

  • Flood warnings were issued in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains;
  • Three motorists were rescued on Monday morning after spending the night in their vehicles in the south-west;
  • Electricity was restored to 30,000 households who suffered power cuts on Sunday morning in the south-west;
  • An inquiry was opened into the death of a man in a homeless shelter in Marseille to establish if it was due to the cold;
  • Three-hundred people went to emergency shelters in the southern port city;
  • A skier died in an avalanche off piste on Sunday the Alps, where the risk was estimated to be four out of five;
  • Two men were found naked near the river Seine at Saint Denis, outside Paris - they claimed to have been kidnapped, beaten up, stripped naked and left in the street.
     

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