Savage storm rampages across Europe killing 7 people


A powerful storm raged across Europe on Thursday, causing the deaths of nine people, Germany's worldwide broadcasterDeutsche Welle reported.

In Lippstadt, in western Germany, a driver died when he lost control of his van in strong winds and drove into oncoming traffic. A truck driver in Brandenburg died in a collision on an expressway caused by strong winds, and a member of the fire department died in a storm in Sundern.

More than 300 flights were cancelled and the airport said passengers should check their flights status online or contact their airline.

NS, the Dutch national railway company announced that "due to the storm all trains are halted until further notice" apart from a small local service in northern Groningen and southern Limburg.

Germany halted all long-distance rail traffic for at least a day, while numerous domestic flights were scrapped as hurricane-force winds lashed the country.

Traffic on Dutch roads was plunged into chaos, with the wind blowing over tractor trailers and toppling trees and hampering efforts to clean up the mess.

Trees were uprooted in several cities but air traffic at the worldwide airport of Zaventem was largely uninterrupted.

"Since this affects many long-distance connections, there are effects on the entire rail services, also internationally", German railway operator Deutsche Bahn said in a statement obtained by the Guardian.

Interior Minister Carmen Dan said Thursday that about 32,000 people had no power in 13 counties across Romania.

Black Sea ports in eastern Romania were also closed Thursday because of the high winds, authorities said.

The square in front of Cologne's famous Cathedral was also partially cordoned off Thursday as a precaution amid fears masonry could be blown loose.

In western Germany, some 100,000 people were left without electricity and schools closed down.

By mid-afternoon, the storm had passed over Belgium and the Netherlands and into Germany, where police reported several injuries.

Gale-force winds have also been recorded in the United Kingdom, where thousands of homes in southeast England have been left without electricity.

Meanwhile, commuters in the US South faced frigid temperatures and dangerously slick roads on Thursday after a winter storm, responsible for at least eight deaths, thrashed the region with heavy snow and winds that snapped power lines.

It caused high winds in the United Kingdom on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, bringing down trees and knocking out power to tens of thousands of homes. As the national weather service raised its warning to the highest code red level, a 62-year-old man was killed in the central Dutch town of Olst by a falling branch when he got out of his truck to remove debris blocking the road.

Flights at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam were briefly suspended.