29 Oct 2013

Deadly storm strikes northern Europe

11:57 am on 29 October 2013

Hurricane strength winds have battered Britain and mainland Europe killing at least seven people, cutting power and forcing hundreds of plane and train cancellations.

Falling trees caused deaths in Britain and the Netherlands and there were fatalities in France and Denmark as the storm barrelled through northern Europe.

Winds of up 160 km/h lashed southern England and Wales in the worst storm recorded in Britain in a decade.

A 17-year-old girl was killed when a tree fell onto her home while she slept in the county of 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, Reuters reports.

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.

About 180,000 customers in Britain were left without power and in southern England, toppled trees damaged properties and flooding made some roads impassable.

London's Heathrow airport said 130 flights were cancelled, mostly in the morning, London's commuter train service was shut down and several Tube lines were partially suspended. Two major motorway bridges, the Dartford Crossing and the Severn motorway bridge linking England to South Wales, were shut.

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

Storms strikes Netherlands

A woman was killed and two people seriously hurt by falling trees in the Dutch capital as heavy winds also swept across the Netherlands, uprooting trees and shutting down all train traffic to Amsterdam.

Hurricane-force winds of more than 150 km/h were recorded on one of the islands off the northern Dutch coast.

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

Fifty flights at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport were cancelled 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 five to six metres, local authorities said.

Winds in the north and northwest felled felling trees, whipped up seas and cut power supplies to around 75,000 homes.

A Danish man was killed in Gilleleje, north of the capital Copenhagen, by a collapsing wall when the storm later struck Scandinavia with undiminished force.