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45 dead in western Europe storms
Paris, Feb 28 (Agencies):
Published on 1 Mar. 2010 12:25 AM IST
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At least 45 people have been killed in storms that have lashed parts of Spain, Portugal and France, officials say. Forty people have died in France and three in Spain, one in Germany as well as a 10-year-old boy in Portugal. Winds of up to 140km/h (87mph) caused chaos as they moved from Portugal up through the Bay of Biscay. The storm system is moving north-eastwards and is expected to reach Denmark by the evening, French meteorological authorities said. The French civil defence says that the number of people killed in France has now reached forty. Most of the French fatalities were caused by drowning, but some were killed when hit by parts of buildings or falling trees as floods and high winds battered the country. At least a dozen people are said to be missing and 59 others injured. President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed his condolences to relatives of victims, and ordered his interior minister to the worst-hit area to co-ordinate the response. The storm system, which has been called Xynthia, has put five of the 95 French departments on red alert - only the second such warning since the new emergency system was introduced in 2001. More than a million homes in France have lost electricity. Some people had taken to their roofs in the Vendee region and and police helicopters were in action attempting to locate and rescue people marooned on their roofs. AFP reported that in Germany, a man was killed and his wife injured when a tree fell on their car in the Black Forest region. Earlier on Sunday a falling tree killed two Spanish men in a car. A Spanish woman was killed by a falling wall in Galicia. The Portuguese boy was also killed by a tree. Rail services were severely affected in northern Spain and a number of trains in western France were delayed because of flooded tracks. Air France said 70 of its flights had been cancelled from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Wind speeds hit 175km/h at the top of the Eiffel Tower, French radio reported. Spain’s Canary Islands, particularly La Palma, Gran Canaria and Tenerife, were hit by the storm, although there was no great damage.

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