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At least two dead as heavy snow, ice strands 15,000 in French Alps

Dalia Ibrahim
Digital Reporter

Sunday, December 28, 2014, 4:22 PM - Heavy snow in the French Alps left some 15,000 drivers stranded overnight into Sunday, forcing many to pass the night in their cars and prompting officials to open emergency shelters. At least two people have died as a result of the extreme weather, local media report.

French media report, the country declared an orange weather alert -- its second highest -- as local authorities scrambled to put up motorists for the night.

Many families spent the night in their vehicles, blocked in huge traffic jams on the main routes to and from the Alpine ski resorts. 

Stranded tourists accused authorities of a disorganized response to the extreme weather and failing to keep them informed.

“It was horrendous,” one woman told France2. “There were no police and no information.” Others took to social media to vent their frustrations:

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Authorities said up to 15,000 people had gone to the 83 emergency centres in the Savoie department.

A 27-year-old man died when his vehicle slid into a ravine in the Isère region. 

The government asked drivers to exercise the utmost caution and to avoid travel if possible.

Three people died in other snow related incidents across France earlier this week.

According to French Daily Le Monde, snowy conditions in the French Alps are expected to persist Sunday, followed by freezing weather next week when Paris should see its first frost in more than one year. 

Local gyms and community halls were opened up as shelters in the Savoy region Satruday.

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Traffic was still heavy on the main roads on Sunday . One driver near Albertville said he had driven 2 km in two hours. 

The four departments affected by the weather alert were Ain, Isère, Savoie and Haute Savoie.

With files from The Guardian and BBC News

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