• Heavy snow delays European Christmas travel
• Ivory Coast on the brink of returning to civil war
Heavy snow delays European Christmas travel
Heavy snowfall across Western Europe on Saturday disrupted flights for five days leaving travellers stranded just before the Christmas holidays.
Europe’s busiest airport London’s Heathrow was the worst affected due to a lack of infrastructure to deal with heavy snowfall.
They only managed to clear the thick layer of snow and ice off one of their main runways on Tuesday.
A third of their flights began resuming on Tuesday and two thirds yesterday. However, airport officials said normal scheduling won’t begin until at least tomorrow, and that is providing there isn’t any more snow.
Angry passengers had to sleep on makeshift camp beds in the terminals and in marquees set up outside. It is believed that over 500,000 passengers have been affected by the delays.
The heavy disruption in England has had a flow-on effect around the rest of Europe and the world.
As well as flights being cancelled in Paris, Frankfurt and Dublin due to snowfall, other airports had to cancel flights as well because planes couldn’t land in England or were stranded there.
Most northern European cities can clear snow off their runways in a matter of hours and Heathrow has come under heavy criticism from the EU for being the “weak link” in the air travel infrastructure chain.
Ivory Coast on the brink of returning to civil war
On Tuesday, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that there is a “real risk” of a return to civil war in the Ivory Coast after the standoff over the disputed presidential election intensified.
Numerous countries have warned their citizens either to leave the country or not to go there after at least 50 people were killed in post-election violence.
The internationally-backed winner Alassane Ouattara and his close supporters remain holed up in the luxury Golf hotel in the capital Abidjan which is protected by a group of 800 peacekeepers.
The UN has 10,000 troops in the country on a peacekeeping mission to oversee and certify the election process and result. Earlier in the week they extended their mission for another six months.
However, the army, which is loyal to the other self-declared winner current president Laurent Gbagbo, has surrounded the UN contingent at the hotel for several days and cut off supplies.
A spokesman for Gbagbo said if the UN does not leave the country then they will be treated as rebels, similar to the forces from the north that support Ouattara.
Gbagbo spoke in a television address on Tuesday saying that he was the legal winner and that an international panel could come and review the election results, which he says were rigged in the north to assure Ouattara of victory.
The recent election was supposed to be the final step in a three-year peace process ending the civil war that broke out early in the decade between north and south.
Photo – Snow-clearing trucks at Heathrow airport