A rare ice storm has left thousands of people across the southern United States frozen in their tracks. Many workers slept in their offices, students camped in their schools, and commuters abandoned their cars to seek shelter in churches, grocery stores or any handy building.

The storm left icicles along Florida beaches and paralysed cities such as Atlanta, home to the world's busiest airport.

At least six people died in hundreds of traffic accidents.

A Nasa satellite image showed a band of snow and freezing rain over the southeastern states, stretching from Texas through Georgia and into the Carolinas.

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A car sits in a ditch after running off the road in Atlanta, GeorgiaReuters
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Sgt Maj Buddy Grisham and Sgt Chad Armstrong of Georgia National Guard help each other on the ice as they go to help drivers and passengers in stranded cars in Atlanta, GeorgiaReuters
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Supermarket sleep: Karen Wang rests in an aisle of a Publix store after being stranded in Atlanta, GeorgiaReuters
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Icicles hang from a camellia shrub after a rare ice storm blanketed the normally warm city of Charleston, South CarolinaGetty
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A warning sign on Interstate 65 as cold weather descends on Mobile, AlabamaReuters
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A band of snow and freezing rain is pictured over the southeastern United States, stretching from Texas through Georgia and into the Carolinas, in this Nasa satellite imageReuters/NASA
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Abandoned cars on an entrance ramp to I-65 North near Birmingham, AlabamaReuters
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A road in Snellville, Georgia is turned into an ice rinkGetty
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An abandoned Atlanta Public School bus sits in the ice on Howell Mill RoadGetty
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Joe Galunas works to clear ice from the car he abandoned on an exit ramp along I-75 North during the winter storm in Atlanta, GeorgiaGetty
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A damaged car is abandoned on an I-75 South exit ramp in Atlanta, GeorgiaGetty
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A lone car drives along the iced-over Interstate 10 in Daphne, AlabamaGetty
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Abandoned cars on an icy road in Hoover, a suburb of Birmingham, AlabamaReuters
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Children play on a sand dune covered with snow on a beach in Charleston, South CarolinaGetty
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A boy kneeling on a boogie board is pulled behind a golf cart on an icy road in Charleston, South CarolinaGetty