Himfr.com Reports Worst snow over, but icy temperatures freeze up Britain

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The heavy snowfalls earlier in the week that swept across Britain are over, but the country now faces a big chill, with temperatures expected to plunge as low as -17 degrees Celsius in certain places.

On Thursday night, temperatures were forecast to reach the lowest of the winter so far with -20 degrees Celsius in northern Scotland, snow flurries for London and eastern England on Friday and continuing freezing conditions nationwide.

The Met Office said the country could expect a further 12 days of bad weather, with widespread icy conditions.

In Surrey, a male body was found in a frozen lake, close to the venue of the ongoing World Darts Championships. Surrey Police told Xinhua that the body was pulled out from the lake at Lakeside Country Club on Thursday morning.

Surrey, near London, had been badly hit by the weather, with temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius on Wednesday night when, according to media reports, the man went missing after watching the darts matches.

The National Grid, which runs the nation's energy transmission networks, issued its second gas balancing alert (GBA) in three days with gas demand expected to reach 454 million cubic meters on Thursday -- beating the record of 449 million in 2003.

The prolonged freezing weather has depleted stocks and nearly 100 businesses across the country have see their gas supplies cut, Andrew Bainbridge of the Major Energy Users' Council (MEUC) told Xinhua.

Bainbridge, chairman of the MEUC, a utility consumers' lobby group, said about 94 firms with specialist gas supply contracts, which provide cheaper fuel on possible supply cuts under extreme conditions, were affected.

"More areas will be affected in the near future, including Scotland, the north west and the south west of England," he said.

"Industries that could be affected include food, glass and ceramics -- all vital in helping us get out of the recession," he added.

A National Grid spokeswoman said the gas market has been quick to respond after supplies to Britain from Norway were unexpectedly lost earlier.

"Additional supplies are now coming in from liquefied natural gas terminals and from storage. Supplies from Norway have been restored," she said.

Ice and snow brought down power lines in part of Hampshire, which had been badly hit by snow and icy temperatures on Wednesday night. Hundreds of schools in Hampshire remained closed because of the bad weather, Hampshire County Council told Xinhua.

Airports stayed open, but there were delays and cancellations, with Easy jet, one of the larger budget airlines, canceling about 100 flights from London's Gatwick Airport.

"There has been disruption to the rail network,

especially around London and the South East, East Anglia and on long-distance services between the capital and Scotland, " said a spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC).

An emergency timetable was brought in on Wednesday and would run until Friday at least, said one of the major London commuter rail companies, Southeastern.

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