Woman 'freezes to death in tragic accident'

A young woman found dead outside her sister’s house is believed to have frozen to death in a tragic accident as the United Kingdom continues to be gripped by freezing conditions.

Woman 'freezes to death in tragic accident'

Bernadette Lee. Photo: Facebook

Bernadette Lee, a 25-year-old dental nurse from Canterbury, Kent, had been on a night out with friends at a nightclub before arriving at her sister’s house, reports The Daily Mail.

However, Miss Lee had been expected to stay at a friend’s house instead and her sister was not in as she had lost her key and was staying elsewhere.

With the house empty, it is believed Miss Lee slipped and banged her head or fell asleep as temperatures dropped to below minus 2C.

Her body was discovered on Monday morning and she was wearing only a dress, with no coat or shoes.

“She was an amazing girl,” said her sister Jodie.

“She she was so pretty and had everything to live for. Bernie loved life, was an adventurous traveller and had just started her own business doing teeth whitening. We are devastated, and can’t comprehend this terrible, terrible tragedy.

“We were all having a good time and having quite a few drinks, but I thought she was staying with her friend as all her clothes were there. I came home but had lost my door key so went to stay with a friend.

“She must have come back to my house after me – it’s just awful. I don’t understand why she didn’t ring me or knock on the neighbours’ doors. Nobody knows what happened and I fear we never will.”

A Kent Police spokesman said: "There are other possibilities we are looking out but one theory is that this is a tragic accident where a young woman was on her way home from a night out, but she didn't make it to where she was staying.

"We don't know if that was because of the cold, or she slipped or she was drunk or she became ill.

"She had almost made it the address she was staying at."

Her devastated father, Roger, said: “One of the friends Bernadette was out with came to see me yesterday. She said she felt so guilty because Bernadette had called her after they’d got separated, but she’d been arguing with her boyfriend and hadn’t answered.

“After that she must have gone to her sister’s. I just wish Bernadette had phoned me. I would have come straight round to get her.

“I would have done anything for my daughter. I loved her so much – everybody did. She was a very popular girl, a lovely girl.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of flights were cancelled and road and rail traffic was severely disrupted across much of Europe on Monday as heavy snow and freezing weather gripped the continent.

Frankfurt airport, Germany's main air hub, cancelled around 500 departing and arriving flights, representing 40 percent of its daily schedule.

The busiest airport in Europe, London Heathrow, scrapped nearly 200 flights.

Snow has caused chaos throughout Europe, with Heathrow airport one of the hardest hit. Photo: AAP

Heathrow said a decision was taken 24 hours in advance to cancel 130 flights because visibility was expected to deteriorate as the day wore on, but problems elsewhere in Europe were having an impact too.

"The additional cancellations are because a number of airports elsewhere in Europe are experiencing problems so that has a knock-on effect for us," an airport spokesman said.

Heathrow has spent $57 million on upgrading its snow-clearing equipment since 2010, when freezing temperatures and snow almost brought the airport to a halt in the approach to Christmas.

Smaller airports in Britain were virtually closed down after fresh snow fell in northern and central England overnight, with planes grounded at Manchester, East Midlands and Leeds Bradford.

Under-sea train services between Britain and continental Europe were also hit, with Eurostar cancelling six trains linking London with Brussels and also Paris due to speed restrictions on the tracks in northern France.

Freezing rain and snow also led to treacherous conditions on railways and roads, causing countless accidents.

In southwestern Germany, police recorded more than 1,000 weather-related accidents and in the northeast, near Berlin, an entire section of motorway was shut to traffic.

In Belgium, three people died and two others were seriously injured when a minibus they were travelling in skidded off the road, overturned and caught fire at a motorway exit near Bruges, local authorities said.

In Moscow, unusually heavy snowfall of almost 50 centimetres (20 inches) caused traffic jams but did not affect flights at its airports, which are well-equipped for snowstorms.

The snowfall over the last four days in the Russian capital exceeded the average for the whole month of January, said Moscow Deputy Mayor Pyotr Biryukov.