Heavy snow brings chaos and death to Germany and Austria

Alpine regions remain on high alert after 12 people are killed in weather-related incidents

Woman removes snow from car in Germany
 A woman attempts to free her car after it was buried by extreme snow in Berchtesgaden, Germany. Photograph: Andreas Gebert/Reuters

Parts of Germany and Austria remain on high alert after extreme snow in Alpine regions, where 12 people have died in weather-related incidents.

A nine-year-old German boy was the latest victim of the extreme weather, which has resulted in residents becoming snowed-in and motorists trapped for hours in freezing temperatures.

The boy was killed by a falling tree in Aying, near Munich, on Thursday afternoon, police said.

Two German skiers were killed by avalanches in the Austrian Alps at the weekend. The others died in traffic accidents or after being hit by falling trees.

German and Austrian troops have been deployed to help residents trapped by the snow. About 300 German soldiers had been deployed by Friday as three Bavarian districts declared a state of emergency.

The troops helped emergency services working around the clock to remove snow from roofs of buildings in danger of caving in under the weight.

Schools remained shut and rail services were at a standstill in parts of southern and eastern Bavaria, as workers struggled to clear tracks of snow and fallen trees. Up to 100 flights out of Frankfurt and Munich were cancelled on Friday due to the weather.

Roads were also closed due to fallen trees, accidents and snow drifts. Hundreds of motorists were stuck in their cars overnight into Friday as traffic ground to a halt on the A8 motorway near Rosenheim.

The Red Cross and volunteers from the state-run civil protection organisation delivered aid to those stuck in freezing temperatures after lorries blocked the road, police told the German news agency DPA.

Snow-covered trains sit stranded at Berchtesgaden station
 A pair of snow-covered Deutsche Bahn trains sit stranded at Berchtesgaden station in Bavaria. Photograph: Lukas Barth-Tuttas/EPA

Marginally warmer temperatures in lower regions on Friday gave emergency services reasons to hope for respite. But forecasts predicted more heavy snow for the region over the weekend.

The volume of snow has triggered multiple avalanches in the Alps this week, killing a number of skiers. Six German teenagers were among those rescued from an avalanche that engulfed them on Wednesday in the Austrian Alps, police said.

The Austrian avalanche warning service said the danger of further incidents remained high. Its German counterpart lowered the warning for the likelihood of avalanches from “great” to “considerable”.


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