High winds, rain lash Europe, killing two

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Paris

High winds and heavy rain bat­tered parts of Europe on Mon­day, leav­ing at least two peo­ple dead and one man lost at sea off France, and dis­rupt­ing travel two days be­fore Christ­mas.

In Bri­tain, a man was found dead in a swollen river in north­west Eng­land where the wa­ter was “fast flow­ing, and a lot more wa­ter than nor­mal”, said In­spec­tor Chis Wright of the Cumbria po­lice, adding, “It’s fair to say that the weather con­trib­uted to the prob­lem.”

The other fa­tal­ity was a woman swept away in a river in north Wales, po­lice said.

A Rus­sian man was also feared dead af­ter fall­ing over­board from a dam­aged cargo ship off the north­west French coast about 220 kilo­me­ters from Brest.

Res­cue work­ers called off their search for him af­ter scour­ing the area late Mon­day.

The At­lantic mar­itime au­thor­i­ties said the man fell into the sea as winds packed nearly 120 km/h and swells reached up to 7 me­ters.

A pas­sen­ger aboard a Brit­tany Fer­ries ves­sel suf­fer­ing in­tense spinal pain be­cause of the rough seas also had to be evac­u­ated by he­li­copter to Brest, the mar­itime au­thor­i­ties said.

Across north and north­west France, about 90,000 homes lost elec­tric­ity, said French util­ity ERDF, and air and rail traf­fic were dis­rupted in the Brit­tany and Nor­mandy re­gions.

The Met Of­fice, Bri­tain’s na­tional fore­caster, is­sued am­ber warn­ings for rain — its sec­ond-most-se­vere level — for much of the southern half of Eng­land and Wales.

In all, the French weather ser­vice has put 23 de­part­ments on or­ange alert — its sec­ond­high­est level — for high winds and waves.

Around 30 flights from Lon­don’s Heathrow Air­port were can­celed, most of them short­haul routes to Europe.

Bri­tain’s train com­pa­nies re­duced or can­celed some ser­vices, with some of the busiest lines, such as the one link­ing Lon­don and Birm­ing­ham in cen­tral Eng­land, forced to op­er­ate un­der speed re­stric­tions be­cause of the con­di­tions.

Eurostar train ser­vices link­ing Bri­tain with France and Bel­gium were un­af­fected. How­ever, ferry ser­vices across the Chan­nel from France to Bri­tain were can­celed af­ter an alert of gale-force winds.


Shop­pers brave wet and windy weather in Lon­don’s Ox­ford Street on Mon­day. British re­tail­ers risked miss­ing out on the tra­di­tional pre-Christ­mas rush as dire weather hit the coun­try.

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