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.