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Heavy snow in Spain causes transport chaos

world Updated: Jan 10, 2009 20:02 IST

AP
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Officials say tens of thousands of air and road travelers have had their trips disrupted after heavy snow fell in central Spain, stranding many at Madrid's international airport and on the capital's ring roads.

AENA, Spain's airports authority, says Barajas airport is operating Saturday with two of its four runways open after teams worked overnight to clear up to 30 centimeters (12 inches) of snow and good visibility returned.

"Nearly 5,000 people were diverted to nine other airports and 46,000 were not able to fly," says Encarnacion Vivanco, AENA's president.

Heavy snow began to fall midday Friday after weather forecasts had predicted a light snowfall.

Such storms are rare in Madrid, where winter temperatures seldom fall much below freezing.