Hurricane-strength winds pummel Europe, four killed
HAMBURG, March 31 (Reuters) - At least four people were
killed on Tuesday when hurricane-force winds lashed northern
Europe in one of the most severe storms in years, forcing
flights to be cancelled and disrupting road, train and marine
The Dutch meteorological office issued a red warning for the
northern and coastal provinces of the low-lying Netherlands, as
gusts of up to 120 kph (75 mph) caused damage estimated at
several million euros.
German weather service spokesman Peter Hartmann said winds
had reached up to 160 kph (100 mph) on higher ground.
"This is one of the worst storms in recent years," he said,
noting that such hurricane-force winds were highly unusual for
this time of the year.
Two road workers were killed in the western region of
Rhineland-Palatinate when a tree fell on their vehicle, while
another man was crushed under a stone wall in front of his house
near Magdeburg in eastern Germany.
The fourth victim was in the eastern Dutch town of Ede,
where a man was killed when the roof of a warehouse fell on him.
About 140 flights were cancelled at Frankfurt airport, where
one runway was shut. Around 90 flights were cancelled at
Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.
At Rotterdam, Europe's largest port, two container terminals
were closed, with ships forced to queue out at sea. A spokesman
said this was a routine precaution when winds rise above gale
force seven. Bulk liquid terminals continued to operate.
Dutch authorities warned freight drivers not to travel with
lightly loaded vehicles after overturned trucks blocked roads,
while in the north some bridges had to be closed.
Near the port of Vlissingen on the Belgian border,
authorities were able to refloat a 300-metre (1,000-foot)
container ship that ran aground in the small hours.
In Germany, train services were suspended in the northern
states of North Rhine Westphalia and Lower Saxony, and disrupted
as far south as Bavaria.
In Britain, winds gusted up to 97 mph (156 kph) overnight,
with a major bridge over the River Thames closed for several
hours because of the bad weather, causing long traffic delays.
In Belgium, the wind uprooted trees and cut power lines to
hundreds of homes. In some places, cars and buildings were
damaged by flying debris and some rail and road links were
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber, Markus Wacket, Sabine Wollrab,
Anthony Deutsch, Erik Kirschbaum, Alastair Macdonald, Stephen
Addison, writing by Michael Hogan and Thomas Escritt; Editing by
Alison Williams and Kevin Liffey)