At least nine dead as storm hits western Europe
on 29/10/2013 07:54:14
It was one of the worst storms to hit the region in years.
The deadly tempest had no formal name, but it was dubbed the St Jude storm, after the patron saint of lost causes, and "stormageddon" on social networks.
The Danish capital of Copenhagen yesterday saw record gusts of up to 120mph and an autobahn in central Germany was shut down by gusts of up to 62mph.
All across the region, people were warned to stay indoors. Hundreds of trees were uprooted or split, blocking roads and crushing cars. The Dutch were told to leave their beloved bicycles at home for safety's sake.
Germany had six deaths, and the Netherlands and Denmark had one each. One woman was also missing after being swept into the surf in France.
A man in Denmark was killed when a brick flew off and hit him in the head.
Nearly 1,100 passengers had to ride out the storm on a heaving ferry from Newcastle in Britain to the Dutch port of Ijmuiden after strong winds and heavy seas blocked it from docking in the morning.
The ship returned to the North Sea to wait for the wind to die down rather than risk being smashed against the harbour's walls, Teun-Wim Leene of DFDS Seaways told national broadcaster NOS.
Trains were cancelled in southern Sweden and Denmark. Winds blew off roofs, with debris reportedly breaking the legs of one man.
Near Copenhagen, the storm ripped down the scaffolding from a five-storey apartment building.
Copenhagen's Kastrup Airport saw delays as strong gusts prevented passengers from using boarding bridges to disembark from planes to the terminals.
In Germany, the death toll hit six, with four people killed in three separate accidents yesterday involving trees falling on cars, the dpa news agency reported.
A sailor near Cologne was killed on Sunday when his boat capsized and a fisherman drowned north-east of the city.
In addition to widespread rail disruptions, both Dusseldorf and Hamburg airports saw many flights cancelled, stranding more than 1,000 passengers.
Thousands of homes in north-western France also lost electricity, while in the Netherlands several rail lines shut down and airports faced delays. Amsterdam's central railway station was closed due to storm damage.
In France, maritime officials were searching for a woman who was swept into the turbulent Atlantic by a big wave yesterday as she walked on Belle Isle, a small island off the coast of Brittany.
"We are focused on the search," Yann Bouvart, of the Atlantic Maritime Prefecture told BFM-TV. He said a helicopter, a boat and an inflatable Zodiac were looking for the woman.
Amsterdam was one of the hardest-hit cities as the storm surged up the Dutch coast. Powerful wind gusts toppled trees into canals in the capital's historic centre and sent branches tumbling onto rail and tram lines, halting almost all public transport. Commuters faced long struggles to get home.
Ferries in the Baltic Sea, including between Denmark and Sweden, were cancelled after the Swedish Meteorological Institute upgraded its storm warning to the highest possible level, class 3, which indicates "very extreme weather that could pose great danger".
Trains were cancelled in southern Sweden, and many bridges were closed between the islands in Denmark.