Medio ambiente

94 Million people affected by U.S. blizzard, La Guardia reopens after crash

Washington, Mar 5 (EFE).- A bad snowstorm accompanied by very low temperatures extending from northeastern Texas to New England is affecting some 94 million people across the country on Thursday.

Weather authorities have issued snow advisories from Alabama up through the Mid-Atlantic states and into New England, and Washington D.C. has been virtually paralyzed all day, with the federal government temporarily shutting down, along with schools, most transportation and other services.

Meanwhile, snow and traffic accidents have trapped a number of people in their vehicles on I-65 and on I-24 in Kentucky.

New York's LaGuardia Airport resumed flight operations on Thursday afternoon a few hours after a jet with 125 people and 5 crewmembers on board went off the runway while trying to land in icy conditions, although nobody was seriously injured in the mishap.

LaGuardia halted flight operations at 11:09 a.m. after the Delta Airlines flight from Atlanta went off the runway upon landing during the heavy snowstorm besetting the region. The plane stopped just short of going into the waters of Flushing Bay and all those on board were evacuated using emergency procedures and bussed to the terminal, where they were examined by doctors and psychologists.

At least 15 passengers had to be treated by emergency services personnel for bruises and scrapes.

The U.S. government on Thursday suspended its operations due to a blizzard that forced schools and offices in the Washington metropolitan area to close and expectations are for up to 20 cm (8 in.) of snow to blanket the region.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will hold a private meeting but do not have any other activities on their agendas for today and the daily White House press conference was cancelled.

The capital declared a "snow emergency" from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., and that means closing local schools and deploying snowplows and other cleaning services to keep the main streets clear of snow and ice.

The forecast indicates that the snow, which has fallen without letup since early Thursday morning and is expected to continue until later in the afternoon, could reach a depth of between 12 and 20 cm (about 5 to 8 in.), although it certainly may drift higher in places.

During most of the day, the air and ground temperature was below freezing and it is expected to fall to -12 C (10 F) during the night and remain low on Friday.

Bus service in the capital is operating on the snow emergency plan, with suspended service on some lines and running more direct routes along the main streets, and the metro is operating normally, although it has curtailed some services.

In addition, the two main regional commuter train lines, Virginia Railway Express (VRE) and MARC in Maryland, have cancelled their service, making access to the capital difficult from the two neighboring states.

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