Mon, Jan 26, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Weather blamed for deaths in Europe

TRAGEDIES: High winds caused havoc in Spain and France, while an avalanche killed climbers in Scotland

AP AND THE GUARDIAN , BARCELONA, SPAIN, AND GLASGOW, SCOTLAND

Part of a sports center has collapsed in high winds in Barcelona, killing four children and injuring 16 other people, officials and witnesses said.

Freak winds gusting to 160kph in some places caused at least six other deaths in Spain and France, officials said, for a total of at least 13 deaths in two days.

Meanwhile, police in the Scottish Highlands confirmed on Saturday night that three climbers had died after an avalanche on Buachaille Etive Mor in Glencoe.

Emergency workers at the Barcelona sports center could be seen on Saturday putting three children’s bodies into ambulances and pulling another 16 injured children from the rubble before the rescue effort ended.

Accident investigators arrived on the scene to take photographs and carry out other attempts to document the cause of the collapse.

A fourth child died in Sant Joan de Deu hospital, a regional government official said on condition of anonymity as required by agency rules. Three other children were in serious condition and the other injured people, including two adult baseball coaches, were either lightly injured or already released from hospital, the official said.

A woman who said she had seen the accident told Spanish national broadcaster TVE that the children were preparing to play on a baseball field in the Sant Boi de Llobregat suburb when they took shelter under a viewing stand with a corrugated metal roof.

A woman died when a wall fell on her elsewhere in Barcelona and a traffic officer was killed by a falling tree in northwest Galicia.

Elsewhere, a road worker died in the northwest village of La Palma de Cervello due to a falling tree, a man was crushed to death by a falling wall in the eastern city of Alicante and a fisherman died after being rescued from a sinking boat in northwestern port city of La Coruna.

Three villages around the eastern town of Nucia had to be evacuated after winds blew down a high-tension power pylon and started a fire in a forested area, Mayor Bernabe Cano said, adding heavy gusts were fanning fires around the town.

A powerful storm also lashed southwestern France, with the state-run electricity provider reporting about a million homes without power and rail authorities halting traffic in the region.

The government office in France’s Landes region announced the first death in France linked to the storm — a driver whose car was crushed by a falling tree, the regional prefecture said.

Authorities in France later raised the storm-related death toll to four, including a 78-year-old woman who died in the Gironde region after her respirator shut down in the power outage, regional officials said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he would travel to the storm-ravaged region yesterday and the national electric utility raised its estimate to some 1.7 million homes without power on Saturday afternoon.

French TV showed images including downed power cables, uprooted trees lying across roads, a car crushed under a collapsed wall, and a traffic-light post that toppled over.

In Bordeaux’s Gironde region, rescuers evacuated 19 residents of a retirement home after its rooftop was swept away. Authorities also evacuated campers from the pine forests in the sandy Landes region to the south.

Meanwhile, in the Scotland, it is believed the three climbers from a group of seven, succumbed to their injuries after being taken to the Belford Hospital in Fort William. A fourth climber, who managed to stagger off the mountain and call for help, was being treated for a shoulder injury.

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