Britain freezes as temperatures plunge below -21

Temperatures in big-freeze Britain plummeted as the country suffered its coldest night of the winter so far.

The mercury sank to minus 21.2C (minus 6.2F) in parts of the Scottish Highlands, considerably colder than some home freezers, with bitterly cold temperatures everywhere else.

Icy conditions have again left roads in a treacherous state and caused delays and cancellations for rail and air passengers. EasyJet has already cancelled around 30 flights to and from airports including Gatwick, Liverpool, Belfast and Stansted. British Airways is also advising customers to check the status of their flight before leaving for the airport.

On the roads, some councils have been forced to ration their gritting, due to pressure on supplies of rock salt.

Hundreds of schools are also shut again, resulting in a full week of closure for some children.

Dozens of big companies are having their gas rationed after domestic demand soared to record levels.

There will be little respite during the day, with more snow for eastern England and temperatures likely to be pegged at or below freezing in all parts. The wintry conditions are also expected to last well into next week as the coldest spell for more than 30 years grinds on.

The death toll caused by the big freeze rose after the body of 45-year-old Philip Hughes from Slough was recovered from beneath the ice in a frozen lake in Frimley Green, Surrey. At least 22 people have died since before Christmas in incidents thought to have been related to the weather.

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