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Icy conditions cause road chaos

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As the temperature plummeted at least 20 people were injured in crashes across Britain.

Freezing conditions left many roads dangerously slippery as motorists struggled to cope. But flood fears eased as the storms that have battered Britain abated, and forecasters believe the worst of the wintry weather is over.

The Environmental Agency closed London's Thames Barrier for a second day to protect the capital from the rising waters.

A driver was seriously injured as a coach carrying 29 Royal Marines bound for Afghanistan skidded off an icy road into a tree, leaving six troops hurt. The Marines, from Plymouth-based 42 Commando, were heading for RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire when the crash happened on the A40 at Puesdown, south-east of Cheltenham.

Just over half an hour earlier, a minibus with 14 people on board crashed nearby at Highnam, near the A40 to the west of Gloucester.

Twelve people were taken to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, one with serious injuries and the others "walking wounded".

Gloucestershire Police received reports of more than 60 accidents during the night due to the icy conditions.

© Press Association 2009