Sudden and heavy snowfalls have hit Germany, bringing traffic chaos to the nation's roads and leaving at least three people dead. Police are advising drivers to stay at home.
Snow left cars buried on roads and led to railway closures
Heavy and rapid snowfall left roads in parts of Germany impassable, with three lives lost as a result of the blizzards.
In the state of North Rhine-Westphalia alone, police said that there had been at least 300 accidents that could be put down to snow and ice.
One man in the region was killed, apparently after getting out of his car following an accident and being hit by another vehicle.
Two people in Bavaria died in separate traffic accidents attributed to the weather, both colliding with oncoming vehicles.
The northeastern state of Mecklenburg Pomerania, where ground snow has remained since mid-December, was hit hardest. Major highways were closed after trucks jack-knifed and railway lines were shut until they could be cleared. Cars were left buried in roads and even snow clearance vehicles became stranded.
"People should just stay at home"
In the city of Rostock, bus services were suspended and the second division city football team Hansa Rostock was forced to cancel its game with FC Union Berlin.
"The ground is unplayable: we've had 30 centimeters of new snow and the blizzard hasn't finished," said soccer club spokesman Karsten Lehmann.
There were traffic delays on many highways across the country while at airports some flights were late or even cancelled.
Police warned motorists to keep off roads unless travel was absolutely necessary and that stranded drivers might wait hours for help. "People should just stay at home," a spokesman said.
Editor: Andreas Illmer
As the UK inquiry into the death of ex-Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko gets under way in London, Russia analyst Andrew Monaghan of Chatham House tells DW that the affair continues to sour British-Russian relations.
Ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko died of polonium poisoning in 2006. An inquiry now aims to find out who was responsible, after years of political wrangling between London and Moscow.
The Shanghai Stock Exchange is counting down to next month's launch of the mainland's first stock option market. It will be an acid test for the capital markets, says DW columnist Frank Sieren.