Europe: Worst storm in 30 years claims 9 lives, triggers traffic chaos

December 6, 2013 | By | Reply More

Dec 06, – Berlin: Icy winter storms with hurricane-force winds on Friday lashed northern Europe, where the death toll rose to nine while hundreds of thousands were left without power or stranded by transport chaos.

hromedia Worst storm in 30 years claims 9 lives, triggers traffic chaos eu crisis2Emergency services across the region battled overnight to evacuate flooded harbour areas, sandbag sodden dykes and repair damage from toppled trees that crashed onto houses, roads, train tracks and power lines.

Atlantic storm “Xaver”, having barrelled across Britain where two people died on Thursday, packed winds of up to 158 kilometres per hour as it hit Germany, also battering the Netherlands, Poland and southern Scandinavia.

Blackouts hit 400,000 homes in Poland and affected 50,000 people in Sweden, while thousands of air passengers were stranded as flights were cancelled at Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg, Gdansk and other airports.

In Germany alone, more than 500 flights were scrapped, said an online travel portal, while dozens of trains were also cancelled.

The highest ocean swells in decades — due to the combined effect of strong winds and a large tidal surge — smashed into dykes in northern Germany and the Netherlands, which however reported no major breaches.

The total death toll rose further, with one man killed by a falling tree in southern Sweden, and three died in Poland.

“A tree crashed down onto a car on a local road” near the northern Polish town of Lembork, said firefighter spokesman Bogdan Madej, quoted by television station Polsat News. “Three people died on the spot, another was taken to hospital.”

The previous day in Britain, a lorry driver died when his vehicle toppled onto other cars in Scotland, while a man riding a mobility scooter was struck by a falling tree in Nottinghamshire, central England.

Also Thursday, two Filipino sailors were swept overboard from a ship off southern Sweden and have remained missing, while a 72-year-old woman died in Denmark after strong winds tipped over her van.

Despite the deaths and turmoil, several affected countries breathed a cautious sigh of relief Friday that the damage wasn’t worse — mindful of catastrophic floods that hit North Sea countries in 1953, when more than 2,000 people died.

Train derailed

Britain reported the worst tidal surge since that disaster, but Environment Agency spokesman Tim Connell told the BBC that “the defences seemed to have held up well”.
In northern Germany, the Elbe River harbour of Hamburg was under six metres of water, the highest in about a decade, leaving only the tops of lamp posts sticking out of the freezing waters.

Also in Hamburg, a fallen tree derailed a suburban commuter train which hit a bridge. The fire brigade had to free six passengers from the train, one with minor injuries. Children were allowed to stay away from school, and Christmas markets battened down their hatches.

Press coordinator for HROmedia – Norberto lluch contributed to this report.

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Category: European Crises

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