6 Dec 2013

Three dead in northern Europe storm

10:23 pm on 6 December 2013

A major storm has hit northern Europe, leaving at least three people dead, causing transport chaos and threatening the biggest tidal surge in decades.

The storm batters Blackpool in the north of England.

The storm batters Blackpool in the north of England. Photo: AFP

A lorry driver was killed when his vehicle was blown over in Scotland, while a man died when he was hit by a falling tree in England. In Denmark, a woman died after a lorry turned over in high winds.

In Germany, the port of Hamburg is bracing for a direct hit and a massive tidal surge, the BBC reports.

There are fears it could be as powerful as the flood that killed more than 300 people in the city in 1962.

The hurricane-force storm Xaver hit northern Europe on Thursday, leaving tens of thousands of homes without power.

Winds of up to 228kmh battered Scotland, where a lorry driver was killed when his vehicle was blown over near Edinburgh. At least two other people were injured by falling trees.

Police have confirmed reports that a second man has been killed by a falling tree in Nottinghamshire, central England.

England's east coast is experiencing its worst tidal surge in 60 years, while in north Wales residents had to be rescued by lifeboat crews.

In western Denmark, a female passenger of a lorry died when the vehicle overturned in strong winds.

Two sailors were reportedly swept overboard from a ship 22km off the southern Swedish coast, and air-sea rescue services failed to find them.

Tidal surges

Britain's Environment Agency said tidal surges could bring significant coastal flooding, and the Thames Barrier was being closed to protect London.

British authorities said they had evacuated homes in Great Yarmouth, eastern England, adding that it could be the biggest storm surge for 60 years.

In the low-lying Netherlands, the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier has been closed off for the first time in six years. Dutch authorities said they had issued the highest possible flood warning for four areas in the north and north-west of the country.

Transport chaos

The storm has been causing transport chaos throughout northern Europe.

Dutch airline KLM cancelled 84 flights from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, while more than 120 were cancelled or diverted at Hamburg airport.

Flights from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports in Scotland were also cancelled.

Rail travel was badly affected, with all train services in Scotland cancelled because of debris on the lines and damage to equipment. Services in northern England were also hit.

The Oeresund road and rail bridge between Sweden and Denmark - which links the Danish capital Copenhagen with the Swedish city of Malmo and features in the hit television series The Bridge - was due to close from 3pm.

Railway lines in Sweden and Denmark were closed, while Germany's national railway, Deutsche Bahn, warned of likely disruption across a swathe of northern Germany.

Ferries to Germany from Sweden and Denmark were cancelled.