The Heat Is Online

Violent Winter Storm Kills 51 People in France, Spain and Portugal

Fierce storms across Europe kill 62

 Sarkozy tours worst-hit areas as death toll from Europe's storm rises to 62

The Associated Press, March. 1, 2010

PARIS - Thousands of firefighters and other rescue workers searched house by house Monday along France's devastated Atlantic coast, trying to help those still stranded by a storm that smashed sea walls and killed at least 62 people across western Europe.

The storm, called Xynthia, blew into France early Sunday with hurricane-force winds, flooding ports, destroying homes and leaving 1 million households without electricity. It also battered Belgium, Portugal, Spain and parts of Germany and snarled train and air travel throughout the continent.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy toured the worst-hit areas Monday, the coastal regions of Vendee and Charente-Maritime, and pledged $4 million in emergency aid.

Regional officials clamored for France to quickly reinforce its aging sea walls. About half the French death toll of 51 was attributed to the breach of the sea wall off the coastal town of L'Aiguillon-sur-Mer, where ocean waters surged up to the roofs of some homes.

The spokesman for France's emergency services, Lt. Col. Patrick Vailli, said nine other people were still missing and scores more were wounded.

The storm also caused six deaths in Germany — including a 2-year-old boy who drowned after he was blown into a river. Three people were dead in Spain, and Belgium and Portugal had one fatality each.

Transportation delays

France's railways had major delays, and cancellations continued Monday at Frankfurt airport — one of Europe's most important hubs.

 

"It is a national disaster, a human drama with a terrible death toll," Sarkozy said. "The urgent thing is to support the families who have members missing or dead."

The French leader also tried to staunch a storm of criticism over the state of the country's sea walls, saying "this is not the time."

One official noted just how old some sea walls were.

"The sea wall that broke dated from (the era) of Napoleon," Philippe de Villiers, a far-right politician who heads the regional government in Vendee, told France-Info. "Either we build (new) sea walls, in which case they need to be taller and taller ... or we have to build further" inland.

In Portugal's Azores islands, a flash flood swept a school bus off a road. The driver and one child are missing on Sao Miguel, one of the archipelago's nine islands.

The Azores islands lie 900 miles west of mainland Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35630697/ns/weather/

Fierce storms across Europe kill 51

Rain, hurricane-strength winds batter France, Germany, Spain

 
The Associated Press, Feb. 28, 2010

PARIS - A violent late winter storm with fierce rain and hurricane-strength winds ripped across western Europe on Sunday, battering France and four other countries, leaving at least 51 people dead.
 
The storm, named Xynthia, was the worst in France since 1999 when 90 people died. Prime Minister Francois Fillon held an emergency Cabinet meeting and afterward called the storm a “national catastrophe.”
 
Many of the at least 45 victims in France drowned, while others died when hit by parts of buildings or trees and branches that were ripped off by the wind. At least a dozen people were missing Sunday and 59 others were injured.
 
Three people died in Spain, one person was killed in Germany and a child was crushed to death in Portugal. The storm also hit Belgium, with one death reported there. Although Britain was not hit, London’s Thames Barrier — the capital’s flood defense — was closed Sunday morning as a precaution.
 
Nearly 900,000 people in France were without electricity. Rivers overflowed their banks in Brittany, while high tides and enormous waves swamped Atlantic Ocean communities in the early morning hours.
 
Helicopters lifted people to safety from the roofs of their homes.
 
A retired couple who had parked their camping car on the waterfront in the town Moutier-en-Retz died when the vehicle was swallowed by rushing waters and they could not make it to firm ground.
 
The threat of avalanches was high in the Pyrenees Mountains and the southern Alps due to wind and wet snow. Roofs were ripped off, chimneys collapsed and the wind shattered the windows at a brewery in eastern France.
 
In Paris, winds knocked over motorcycles and spewed garbage around the streets of the capital. Flights were delayed and at least 100 were canceled at the two main Paris airports. A number of trains throughout France were delayed because of flooded tracks.
 
Flights, trains canceled
 
Winds reached about 130 mph on the summits of the Pyrenees and up to nearly 100 mph along the Atlantic Coast. The storm hit the Vendee and Charente-Maritime regions in southwestern France hardest, flooding coastal islands and tossing boats around in ports.
 
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux planned to visit the worst hit regions Monday.
 
The storm was moving eastward and parts of France along the border with Germany and Belgium were on alert for heavy rain and high
winds.
 
Officials say scores of flights and trains have been canceled or delayed in southwestern Germany. One person was killed in the Black Forest area when winds brought a tree down onto his car in the Sunday afternoon storm.
 
Fallen trees also closed many stretches of train tracks in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saarland.
 
High winds caused the cancellation of 119 flights from Frankfurt airport while scores of others were delayed or diverted.
 
Xynthia hit Belgium in mid-afternoon. One man was killed by a falling tree in his garden in Jodoigne, southern Belgium, broadcaster VRT reported. High winds also brought down some electricity lines, leaving many without power in the south of the country.
 
In Spain, the interior minister said three people were killed by hurricane-strength winds and heavy rainfall that lashed the country’s northern regions over the weekend. Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said the storm had been intense in certain regions and had caused the deaths of a woman in northwestern Ourense and of two people whose car was hit by a falling tree in Arlanzon just north of Madrid.
 
The national weather agency had warned that a violent cyclone depression had formed over the Atlantic Ocean and was to cross areas bordering the Bay of Biscay.
 
Winds gusting up to 118 mph had blown over the Canary Islands overnight Friday causing a crane to collapse on a building, lampposts to fall onto parked cars and forcing flight cancellations.
 
Portugal’s home affairs minister Rui Pereira said a child had been killed Saturday by a falling tree in Paredes. The 10-year-old had been playing ball near a church while waiting to go to a prayer meeting when a branch crushed him, Pereira said.
 
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Fierce storms in France, Spain, Portugal kill 16

 The Associated Press, Feb. 28, 2010

PARIS - A violent late winter storm with fierce rain and hurricane-strength winds battered France, Spain and Portugal Sunday, leaving at least 16 people dead.

Most of the 12 victims in France drowned, while others died when hit by parts of buildings or trees and branches that were ripped off by the wind.

Nearly 900,000 people in France were without electricity. Rivers overflowed their banks in Brittany, and the threat of avalanches was high in the Pyrenees Mountains and the southern Alps due to wind and wet snow.

In Paris, winds knocked over motorcycles and spewed garbage around the streets of the capital. Flights were delayed and some were canceled at the two main Paris airports. A number of trains in western France were delayed due to flooded tracks.

Winds reached about 130 mph (200 kph) on the summits of the Pyrenees and about 90 mph (150 kph) along the Atlantic Coast.

In neighboring Spain, the Interior Minister said three people were killed by hurricane-strength winds and heavy rainfall that lashed the country's northern regions over the weekend.

Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said the storm had been intense in certain regions and had caused the deaths of a woman in northwestern Ourense and of two people whose car was hit by a falling tree in Arlanzon just north of Madrid.

The national weather agency had warned that a violent cyclone depression had formed over the Atlantic Ocean and was to cross areas bordering the Bay of Biscay.

Winds gusting up to 118 mph (190 kph) had blown over the Canary Islands overnight Friday causing a crane to collapse on a building, lampposts to fall onto parked cars and forcing flight cancellations.

Portugal's home affairs minister Rui Pereira said a child had been killed Saturday by a falling tree in Paredes.

The 10-year-old had been playing ball near a church while waiting to go to a prayer meeting when a falling branch crushed him, Pereira said.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35628977/ns/weather/