lunes, 28 de octubre de 2013

Britain battered by wind storm that has left 7 dead across Europe - CBC.ca

Seven deaths were reported after a major storm with hurricane-force gusts lashed southern Britain, the Netherlands, France and Germany on Monday, knocking down trees, flooding low areas and causing travel chaos. 

Weather forecasters say it was one of the worst storms to hit Britain in years. Gusts of 160 km/h were reported on the Isle of Wight in southern England, while gusts up to 130 km/h hit the U.K. mainland.

UK Power Networks officials said up to 270,000 homes were without power. Flood alerts were issued for many parts of southern England and emergency officials said hundreds of trees were knocked down by gusts.

London's Heathrow Airport, Europe's busiest, cancelled at least 130 flights and express trains between central London and Gatwick and Stansted airports were suspended. Huge waves prompted the major English port of Dover to close, cutting off ferry services to France.

A nuclear power station in Kent, southern England, automatically shut its two reactors after storm debris reduced its incoming power supply. Officials at the Dungeness B plant said the reactors had shut down safely and would be brought back online once power was restored.

Britain crane

In London, a collapsed crane fell on the roof of the Cabinet office, prompting Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to cancel a scheduled press conference. (Olivia Harris/Reuters)

In central London, a huge building crane near the prime minister's office crumpled in the gusts.

Thousands of homes in northwestern France also lost electricity, while in the Netherlands several rail lines shut down and airport delays were reported. Dutch citizens were warned against riding their bicycles — a favoured form of transport — because of the high winds, and Amsterdam's central railway station was shut down by storm damage.

Some English rail lines also closed Monday morning, and some roads were closed due to fallen trees and power lines. There were severe delays on many parts of the London Underground and London Overground trains were delayed several hours.

People killed by falling trees

In Britain, police said a 17-year-old girl in Kent and a man in his 50s in Watford were killed after trees fell on her home and his car. A teenage boy drowned Sunday while playing in the surf at Newhaven.

London house gas explosion

Police said one London man died in an apparent gas explosion caused by a falling tree. (London Fire Brigade)

Police said one London man died in an apparent gas explosion at his home caused by a falling tree. 

"It was a very huge bang. It looked like, my first thought was maybe an aircraft has crashed or something. It was a very, very big explosion," Rakesh Jain, who lives near the house, told CBC News.

He said he and his family were awoken by the explosion Monday morning. 

"I had never heard such an explosion in my life," Jain said.  "It was very, very scary, especially for the children."

Amsterdam police said a woman was killed by a falling tree and German authorities said two others were killed when a tree fell on their car in Gelsenkirchen, western Germany.

A stretch of the A71 autobahn in the central German state of Thuringia was closed because of winds gusting up to 100 km/h.

The storm has hurricane-force gusts but is not classified as a hurricane since it did not form over warm expanses of open ocean like the hurricanes that batter the Caribbean and the eastern United States, according to Britain's national weather service, the Met Office.

Britain does not get hurricanes because hurricanes are "warm latitude" storms that draw their energy from seas far warmer than the North Atlantic, the agency said.

The storm is not named and does not have an "eye" at its centre as hurricanes typically do. On social networks it has been called stormageddon.

Sweden's Meteorological Institute upgraded its advisory Monday, warning that a "class 3" storm that could pose "great danger to the public" as it hits western and southern Sweden in the evening.

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