Frankfurt airport snow
© AP
Some passengers had to stay overnight in Frankfurt airport
More than 150 flights from Germany's largest airport, Frankfurt, have been cancelled as snowfall continues.

Many passengers were left stranded in the airport as snow ploughs attempted to clear runways. In Nuremberg, one plane slid off the runway.

A blizzard is forecast to hit the country soon and people have been advised to stock up on enough essential supplies to last up to four days.

Many other countries across Europe have also been hit by the bitter conditions.

Nearly 140 people have frozen to death in the past few weeks in Poland, and in Switzerland, heavy snow has cut the flow of lorries through Alpine tunnels.

The Eurostar service between Britain, France and Belgium was expecting to run a limited service on Saturday.

Passengers have been urged to cancel or postpone their journeys if they can.

Heated tents Duesseldorf
© AFP
Heated tents were set up in some cities for people sleeping rough
'Paralysed'

Germany's Civil Protection Office (BBK) said heavy snowfalls over the weekend could trigger local power cuts and severely disrupt public transport.

On Friday evening, Nuremberg airport was closed briefly after an Air Berlin flight with 133 people on board skidded off the runway and became stuck in snow. No-one was injured in the incident.

Gale-force winds and drifting snow are expected to bring traffic to a standstill in many parts of Germany, a situation exacerbated by shortages of grit.

"What is being forecast for the weekend could lead to chaotic traffic conditions and potentially leave large parts of Germany completely paralysed," warned the Auto Club Europa.

Airports have called in extra staff and rail operators have warned of delays.

The snow is already more than 30cm (1 ft) deep on the isle of Ruegen, off Germany's Baltic coast, ZDF TV says.

German households have been advised to keep three or four days' worth of provisions, including alternative cooking fuel in case of power cuts. Among the essential items listed by the BBK is a battery-powered radio, for checking weather reports.

In cities like Duesseldorf, Red Cross workers were setting up heated tents for emergency accommodation as up to 10 homeless people have frozen to death in recent weeks because of the cold weather.

The busy Gotthard and San Bernardino tunnels under the Alps were temporarily closed to heavy goods vehicles on Friday, the Swissinfo news website reported.

Ice skaters
© AP
Much of Europe is feeling the effects of the cold weather
Icebreakers

In the UK, the worst winter for decades has led to a fear for energy supplies as temperatures dropped as low as -22C (-8F) in some parts.

Local authorities have agreed to cut their use of salt by 25% in an attempt to preserve dwindling supplies.

British Airways cancelled 54 flights from Heathrow on Saturday. Delays were expected at other airports and low-budget airline Easyjet said it was cancelling some flights.

In the Netherlands, icebreakers have been deployed to clear shipping routes such as the Twente canal, the harbours of Almelo and Enschede and the Ijsselmeer inland sea.

Northern Spain is expecting more heavy snowfalls while the country's south has been hit by severe floods.

France is also braced for more snow. Meteo France warned: "The amount of snow expected is significant, exceptional even."

Parts of France - notably the south-eastern region of Provence - are without power and suffering transport delays after up to 20cm of snow fell in recent days.