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Three Malta flights cancelled as snow closes UK airports

Air Malta and EasyJet flights from Gatwick and a Ryanair flight from Edinburgh were cancelled today after snow shut down many airports in the UK. Heathrow, however, is still open.

Gatwick airport spokeswoman Sarah Baranowski said the runway was closed at 11.30pm last night and ground staff working throughout the night had not been able to clear the settling snow.

"It is vital that passengers do not make their way to the airport and check our website and with their airline for updates," she added.

"We need to make sure the runway is safe before all flights can recommence but the snow has not stopped all night."

A statement on Gatwick's website said: "Due to the current weather conditions, departing and arriving flights at Gatwick will be severely disrupted. The runway is currently closed to allow snow clearance activities to be carried out. Passengers are advised not to set out for the airport and should check directly with their airline or visit our website."

It is not known when the airport will reopen.

Forecasters said fresh snow showers and sub-zero temperatures will continue to blight Britain today.

Around 15cm of snow is expected on higher grounds with strong 30mph north-easterly winds making the temperatures feel as low as -7C in parts of the UK.

Schools are expected to remain shut and transport routes blocked with forecasters warning that the onslaught of Arctic weather will not show signs of letting up until Friday.

Met Office forecaster David Price said: "It will remain bitterly cold today with the strong north-easterly winds continuing to bring snow showers and making temperatures feel as low as minus six or seven degrees.

"There will be fresh snowfall across the majority of the country, with the only areas really escaping being the Midlands, the far south west of England and the west and north-west of Scotland."

Mr Price predicted that an average of between 0.8in (2cm) and 2in (5cm) of snow will fall across the UK today, with 4in (10cm) to 6in (15cm) falling in higher areas. Temperatures are also expected to struggle to get past 0C with maximums of just 2C.

Mr Price said the snowy conditions will continue throughout tomorrow adding to the existing levels that have accumulated over the past week.

"On Friday we should an expect a reprieve from the showers. However, it will remain extremely cold and the snow will be back over the weekend," added the weather expert.

Severe weather warnings were today in place for the whole of Scotland, with widespread icy roads and heavy snow expected in central and south westerly areas.

Warnings were also in place for northern England, the south coast and parts of Wales as the UK braces itself for more Arctic temperatures.

Gemma Plumb, forecaster for MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said snow drifts were reported in East Anglia and Suffolk this morning as a result of the strong winds.

Yesterday, commuters worked from home, thousands of children could not go to school and motorists faced travel chaos as a number of roads were impassable.

Driving conditions were described as hazardous with the AA receiving an average of 1,350 calls an hour. The RAC said callouts to breakdowns peaked at 2,000 an hour. London was the worst area affected yesterday, with more breakdowns than any other part of the UK.

Train services all over the country have also been badly affected by the severe weather, with some services not operating and others being badly delayed.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) said that, as of 5pm yesterday, 73% of trains were arriving at their destination on time.

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