Around 2,000 people were evacuated from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport on Friday because of snow on the roof of a terminal, an airport source said, after the cancellation of hundreds of Christmas flights, as freezing weather and widespread snowfalls caused travel chaos across Europe.
People remained calm during the evacuation of Terminal 2E, described as a precautionary measure taken because of around 60 centimeters (two feet) of accumulated snow on the roof.
Emergency workers were deployed to clear the roof, a task expected to last until around 1400 GMT, the source said.
At least 400 flights in and out of Paris' main hub Roissy-Charles de Gaulle were cancelled, with flights in Belgium and Germany also affected and motorists staying off the roads as western Europe battled the latest cold snap.
"I'm so tired that I no longer have the strength to be angry," said Frenchwoman Zoe Stephanou, 45. "My flight to Milan has been cancelled twice. The first when there was no snow."
One flight represents an average of 150 passengers, so the cancellations, largely due to problems de-icing aircraft, will affect around 60,000 people.
Junior transport minister Thierry Mariani said that airports were struggling to deal with the third bout of ice this month, with problems compounded by workers at France's main anti-freeze factory at Fos-sur-Mer being on strike.
A cargo plane carrying glycol from the United States arrived at Charles de Gaulle early Friday, an airport source said, with trucks bringing more anti-freeze from Germany due to arrive later in the day.
While rail operator SNCF said all Christmas trains would be running, around 40 passengers spent the night on a train stuck in the snow in the northern Somme region, with the Red Cross bringing them blankets and hot drinks.
Transport Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet warned that the flight delays could extend into Christmas Day for up to half of passengers at Charles de Gaulle.
"It's unacceptable!" protested Zakaria Talhaoui, 29, who had been due to fly to Casablanca, Morocco, for his brother's wedding.
"Everyone's blaming each other, the company, the airport management," said his tearful wife, Malika, six months pregnant.
In Paris, authorities opened up extra places for the homeless, with temperatures expected to drop to minus 10 degrees Celsius on Christmas Day.
Between 10 and 20 centimeters (four and eight inches) of snow fell overnight in Belgium, sowing chaos on the roads, with many buses and taxis in the capital Brussels unable to drive on snow-blocked streets and flights delayed.
Belgian trains were hit with severe delays as many railway employees were unable to make it to work, operator Infrabel said.
The motorway from Belgium to Luxembourg was cut by snow, and bus services in most cities in the hilly south of the country were not running.
Hundreds of plane passengers at Charleroi spent the night at the airport or in the hotel after their flights were cancelled.
European airports shut down
In Germany, the country's third largest airport in Duesseldorf was shut down early Friday, a spokeswoman for the flag carrier Lufthansa told AFP, although it was expected to reopen in the afternoon.
More snow was expected across Germany during the day, and several trains ground to a halt overnight as service was cut between Hanover and Berlin, the national railway Deutsche Bahn said.
Hundreds of tourists on the Danish island of Bornholm were forced to spend the night in an army barracks or on the ferry after heavy snow overnight.
"Bornholm police ask people not to move around. Heading off on foot outside built-up areas is deadly dangerous and we ask people to stay at home," they said in a statement.
In Britain, where heavy snow last week caused widespread transport chaos, meteorologists warned of further snow and widespread icy roads in northeast England and eastern Scotland.
Train services were disrupted across large parts of the country, hitting travelers heading home for Christmas, although Heathrow airport was largely back to normal after the chaos of recent days.
In Ireland, Dublin airport reopened Friday after being closed for much of Thursday, stranding about 40,000 passengers.
Snow and ice crews worked overnight to clear about 120,000 tons of snow from the runway, a statement from the airport said.