Wed, Oct 30, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Hurricane death toll rises in Europe

DAMAGE AND DISRUPTION:Millions of British commuters were forced to stay home after transport lines closed down, while flights to several European airports were canceled

Reuters, LONDON and AMSTERDAM

Hurricane strength winds battered northern Europe on Monday, killing more than a dozen people, cutting power and forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights and train journeys.

At least seven people died in Germany while there were four deaths in Britain and fatalities in the Netherlands, Denmark and France as the storm brought down trees, blew roofs off houses and turned over trucks, causing chaos across much of the region.

In Germany, falling trees killed several drivers, at least one man drowned and a 66-year-old woman died when a wall collapsed on her, German media reported.

The storm had barrelled in overnight, with gusts of up to 160kph, leaving a trail of damage across parts of southern Britain, before heading east into mainland Europe.

A 17-year-old girl was killed when a tree fell onto her home while she slept in Kent, southeast of London, while a man in his 50s was killed when a tree crushed his car in the town of Watford, just north of the capital.

A man and a woman were found dead in west London after several houses were damaged in a suspected gas explosion on a street where the storm blew a tree down.

London police said the tree may have damaged gas pipes, causing the explosion.

A crane smashed into the British Cabinet Office, a ministry in the heart of London, forcing British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to cancel a news conference.

Thin volumes on London’s financial markets suggested many traders had been stuck at home, along with millions of commuters who would normally head into London, but were thwarted by train and underground lines being shut by toppled trees and power failures.

London’s Heathrow Airport said 130 flights were canceled.

Winds of more than 150kph swept across the Netherlands, killing two.

Uprooted trees smashed cars, homes and sank a houseboat on an Amsterdam canal. Roofs were blown off buildings and several houseboats were ripped from their moorings, police said.

A woman died in Amsterdam when a tree fell on her.

A 24-year-old man who was struck on the head by a branch while cycling in the central city of Veenendaal died in hospital.

The storm brought trains to a standstill across much of the country, and services had not fully resumed by Monday evening.

Fifty flights at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport were canceled and Rotterdam Port, Europe’s busiest, said incoming and outgoing vessels were delayed.

In France, a 47-year-old woman was found dead after being swept out to sea during a cliff walk on Belle Ile, an island off France’s northwestern Brittany coast where the high winds generated waves of 5m to 6m, local authorities said.

Winds topping 100kph struck the north and northwest of the country felling trees, whipping up seas and cutting power supplies to about 75,000 homes, according to the ERDF electricity distribution company.

About 486,000 properties in Britain were left without power, UK Power Networks said, in one of the worst storms to hit England since the 1987 “Great Storm,” which killed 18 people and felled about 15 million trees.

The Association of British Insurers said it was too early to give figures on the insured loss.

The 1987 storm caused £2.2 billion (US$3.5 billion) of damage in today’s terms.

The last comparable storm to Monday’s was in 2002, a Met Office spokesman said.

Gusts — in places above the 33 meters per second classified as hurricane force — battered Scandinavia from the afternoon, closing the bridge between Sweden and Denmark and paralyzing road and rail transport.

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