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Heavy Snowfall Shuts Down Air, Rail Links in Southern Germany

Heavy snowfall overnight has paralysed air and rail connections in the southern German state of Bavaria, leaving thousands of travellers stranded.

All flights were grounded at Munich Airport, a key regional and international hub, until 6am (05:00) GMT on Sunday, the airport said. Air traffic had initially been suspended until noon (11:00 GMT) on Saturday.

“Passengers are strongly advised not to travel to the airport today [Saturday] and to check the status of their flight with their airline before travelling to the airport tomorrow,” airport authorities said.

German airline Lufthansa noted the knock-on effect of the closure of Munich airport, saying that many other airports in Germany, including the one in Frankfurt “are affected with limited flight operations”.

The severe weather, which is expected to continue, also disrupted rail services in Bavaria, with the main railway station in the capital, Munich, brought to a virtual standstill.

Regional and long-distance services to and from the main transport hub were temporarily suspended, including connections with the Austrian cities of Salzburg and Innsbruck. Passengers on some trains in Munich and Ulm had to spend the night on trains.

The railway assumed that the restrictions would continue throughout Saturday. “We recommend postponing journeys to and from Munich,” said a spokesperson quoted by the dpa news agency.

Bayern Munich’s match cancelled

Bayern Munich’s home match against Union Berlin was called off because of heavy snowfall on Saturday.

“Even if it had been possible to get the pitch at the Allianz Arena in a condition that would have allowed the match to go ahead by the afternoon, safety risks and the traffic situation made cancellation unavoidable,” the club said in a statement.

“Snow falling from the roof at the Allianz Arena poses an incalculable risk for spectators. In addition, it is almost impossible to get to the stadium,” it added.

Underground services, buses and trams also initially stopped running in the Bavarian capital. There were numerous accidents on the roads in southern Bavaria, most of which police said resulted in property damage, dpa said.

The German Weather Service expected heavy snowfall to continue in the south, southeast and parts of the north of the state.

Many smaller roads outside of built-up areas were heavily snow covered or blocked by fallen trees as the removal of traffic obstructions continued.

Police in Lower Bavaria, the region northwest of Munich, said they responded to 350 incidents related to snow and ice between Friday night and early Saturday, some of which led to minor to moderate injuries.

Parts of the neighbouring state of Baden-Wurttemberg also received up to 40cm (15.7 inches) of snowfall overnight, causing trees to topple and block roads.

According to police, a 54-year-old driver died when his vehicle spun and collided with a van on Friday evening in the town of Emmingen-Liptingen. The driver of the van was uninjured.

In Austria and Switzerland, the new snowfall led officials to raise the alarm about the danger of avalanches. The provinces of Tyrol and Vorarlberg in western Austria raised their avalanche warnings to the second-highest level after the region received up to 50cm (20 inches) of snow overnight.