Snow shuts Eiffel Tower as winter blast hits France

1 / 2
This photo shows snow on the Place du Trocadero in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Monday. (AFP)
2 / 2
Pedestrians gather as heavy snow falls in front of The Eiffel Tower in Paris late on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 07 February 2018
0

Snow shuts Eiffel Tower as winter blast hits France

PARIS: The Eiffel Tower turned away tourists on Tuesday as snow swept across northern France, causing traffic chaos in Paris during the French capital’s first real dose of wintry weather this season.
The Meteo France weather service put the greater Paris region on alert for snow and black ice on roads, among 27 departments it expected to be on alert across the country until midday Wednesday.
The weather caused major gridlock across the city, with more than 700 kilometers (430 miles) of traffic jams recorded at 7:30 p.m. local time (1830 GMT) on Tuesday, local information service Sytadin said.
Paris bus services were canceled on Tuesday evening, according to the RATP transport authority, and school transport would not run on Wednesday in several areas.
Meteo France says the snowfall will intensify overnight Wednesday, with temperatures expected to fall as low as minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit), leaving five to 10 centimeters (two to four inches) in most areas on alert.
Snow had already dusted Paris on Monday before quickly melting away.
“This will be the first blast of winter, late but the real thing, with cold air from Scandinavia colliding with a perturbation coming up from the south,” said forecaster Sebastien Leas.
Rail operator SNCF had to slow down trains on several of its high-speed TGV lines, with service disrupted across much of northern France.
Thousands of emergency accommodation spaces will be opened to shelter homeless people, the country’s territorial cohesion ministry said.
In the Paris region, traffic was banned for vehicles weighing over 7.5 tons, which were told to bypass the area by police, who also advised locals limit road trips.
On Tuesday night in the southern Paris suburb of Essonne, many truck drivers forced to stop on the road were preparing to spend the night.
“We have been stuck since 4:30 pm. We are cold, we have no food or toilet. I do not know when I will be able to leave,” one truck driver, Mehdi Benomar, told AFP.
The cold snap marks a sharp contrast from the weeks of mild and rainy weather across northern France in recent weeks, prompting flooding in several areas and pushing the Seine River to more than four meters above its normal levels as it flows through the capital.


British boat rescues migrants trying to cross Channel

Updated 18 February 2019
0

British boat rescues migrants trying to cross Channel

  • British border officials have picked up 34 people who were trying to cross the English Channel in a small boat
  • The Home Office said the passengers are thought to be migrants and their nationalities were not known yet

LONDON: A British boat rescued 34 migrants crossing the Channel aboard a small motorised boat on Monday, Britain's interior ministry said.
"Today Border Force responded to an incident in the Channel involving a small boat containing 34 people," the ministry said in a statement.
"The group were brought to Dover and have been transferred to immigration officials for interview," it added, saying that men, women and children were on board and that three men were arrested on suspicion of immigration offences.
French authorities earlier said that "a fishing boat gave the alarm shortly after 8:00 am (0700 GMT)" after spotting the boat off the tip of northern France.
French navy, police and customs launched a helicopter, a tug boat and three fast vessels, while sea rescue services also tried to rescue the migrants.
By the time they reached the migrants' location, however, "they had crossed over to the English side" of the Channel where they were picked up by a British vessel, said the regional authority in northern France.
Two British Border Force cutters and a coastal patrol vessel were involved in the rescue, according to UK authorities.
Some 500 people -- most of them over the last two months of 2018 -- attempted to cross the Channel to Britain last year, compared with just 13 known attempts in 2017.
French interior ministry figures show 276 people successfully reached British waters last year.
London in December dispatched a navy ship to help coastguard boats watch over the 21 miles (33 kilometres) of sea that separate France and Britain at its narrowest point.
France also responded by announcing broader surveillance measures in early January.
The number of Channel crossings was just a tiny fraction of the 55,756 successful attempts made across the Mediterranean to Spain that were recorded by the UN's refugee agency in 2018.