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article imageStorm sows trail of destruction across Europe

By AFP     Feb 9, 2020 in Environment

Fierce winds and heavy rains claimed at least three lives across northern Europe on Monday as Storm Ciara disrupted travel, grounded hundreds of flights, flooded roads and left vast areas without power.

In one of the region's most violent storms for years, one man died and another was reported missing in southern Sweden when their boat capsized.

In southern Poland, at Bukowina Tatrzanska, a 40-year-old woman and her young daughter were killed by roofing torn away by the storm-force winds, police in Zakopane said.

Police in London said Monday that a man had been killed in his car on Sunday when a tree fell on to a motorway southwest of the capital.

The storm brought down a crane on to the roof of Frankfurt cathedral in Germany
The storm brought down a crane on to the roof of Frankfurt cathedral in Germany
Yann Schreiber, AFP

In the west of Germany, falling trees seriously injured three people: two women in Sarrebruck -- one of whom was in a critical condition -- and a 16-year-old boy in Paderborn.

And in the Czech Republic, a man was injured by a falling tree. Winds of up to 180 kilometres (110 miles) an hour left 100,000 without power, even toppling over a truck.

The storm has swept across the region since the weekend.

- Extensive damage -

It caused extensive flooding in England, cut power to 130,000 homes in northern France and played havoc with air, rail and road travel in several countries.

It forced more than 700 flights in four German cities - Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf and Cologne - to be cancelled.

In the Netherlands, around 220 flights were cancelled Monday morning at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport -- Europe's third-busiest -- most destined for other European cities. Around 240 never took off on Sunday.

Storm warnings for western Europe
Storm warnings for western Europe
Vincent LEFAI, AFP

And having closed one of the big storm surge barriers as the tempest approached Sunday night, Dutch police reported more than 600 kilometres of traffic jams Monday.

Tiny Luxembourg cancelled school classes, and in the Belgian capital Brussels, morning rush-hour traffic ground to a halt due to street closures and flooding.

In the German city of Frankfurt the winds toppled a crane on to the roof of the cathedral, causing extensive damage.

In Paris, trees brought down by the winds disrupted local rail lines, causing commuter chaos.

Britain's newspapers and the country's Met Office on Monday described Ciara as "the storm of the century" in terms of the scale of the destruction it wrought.

Mytholmroyd in northern England was flooded after the River Calder burst its banks
Mytholmroyd in northern England was flooded after the River Calder burst its banks

And Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill warned: "While Storm Ciara is clearing away, that doesn't mean we're entering a quieter period of weather.

"Blizzards aren't out of the question."

In northern England, the West Yorkshire towns of Hebden Bridge and neighbouring Mytholmroyd were among the worst hit by the storm, submerging cars and cutting power to tens of thousands.

More than 170 flood warnings remained in place Monday.

- Wind farm shut -

Much of the initial damage and disruption was along northern Europe's coastline.

Channel ferry services between the southern English port of Dover and Calais in northern France resumed Monday morning after being halted Sunday.

A whole Belgian offshore wind farm was shut down as powerful gusts caused the turbines to stop automatically for safety reasons.

Storms have forced cancelled flights and disrupted rail services
Storms have forced cancelled flights and disrupted rail services
Christof STACHE, AFP

The storm was so violent that "we are forced to completely stop mainline train traffic in Germany this Sunday evening," Deutsche Bahn spokesman Achim Stauss told AFP.

And it played havoc with Europe's sporting calendar, causing the cancellation of top-flight football fixtures in Belgium, England, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

But there was an upside for passengers flying British Airways to London from New York.

The storm helped the flight to finish in the sub-sonic flight record time of 4 hours 56 minutes, according to flight-tracking website Flightradar24.


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