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Severe weather grounds flights, strands passengers in Iceland

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Severe weather grounds flights, strands passengers in Iceland

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Severe weather grounds flights, strands passengers in Iceland

Blizzard conditions throughout Iceland grounded flights and stranded thousands of holiday travelers, who were forced to sleep on the floor at Keflavik Airport for a second day. Photo courtesy of Iceland parliament member Gisli Olafsson

Dec. 20 (UPI) — Blizzard conditions throughout Iceland grounded flights and stranded thousands of holiday travelers, who were forced to sleep on floors and benches at Keflavik Airport for a second day, with more delays forecast due to heavy snowfall and strong winds.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office issued a travel alert Tuesday for the entire country warning of dangerous weather, and severe conditions at the airport.

Thousands of passengers were unable to fly out for a second day, while others who flew into Iceland since the weekend were unable to get out of the airport to their hotels.

The road between Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik and the airport was shut early Tuesday, which meant many airport employees were unable to get to work to help with the crowds.

“High winds and dangerous icy road conditions are affecting transfers from Keflavik International airport,” the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said. Emergency services are also “providing blankets and water at the airport for those stranded.”

A member of Iceland’s parliament, Gisli Olafsson, tweeted late Monday that more than 20 busloads of passengers were stuck at the airport for more than 24 to 36 hours before making it to Reykjavik, while showing images of the snow and passengers sleeping on the airport floor.

“The Red Cross has opened up a number of shelters for people stuck due to the weather,” Olafsson added.

Meanwhile, the airport and airlines urged passengers to keep track of delayed and canceled flights on its website.

“We are still experiencing a major road closure which is causing disruption to our operations,” Icelandair announced on its website Tuesday. “Due to severe weather circumstances in Iceland, we are unfortunately forced to cancel our morning flights to and from Keflavik on Dec. 20.”

“We will resolve any issues as fast as we can, but rebooking flights is taking longer than usual due to the volume of requests,” the airline added.

Tom Stirling, who lives in Kennebunk, Maine, was stranded at Keflavik Airport with his wife and two young sons after their connecting flight to Scotland was canceled. Stirling said they were forced to sleep on the floor Monday night, while their younger son who was sick slept on a bench.

“I understand that weather factors can affect things but I think the lack of preparation and foresight… you should have never let people come here knowing the forecast,” Stirling told NBC. “Today, it’s like everything’s canceled and no one’s really doing anything to make this right.”

“We found a couple of luggage carts and used them as a chair,” said Becky Carson, who traveled from Missouri. “I have never appreciated all the things I normally take for granted so much in my life.”

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