Sunday, January 25, 2009

Spain and France battered by deadly storm

Yahoo News via Agence France-Presse: Rescuers in Spain and France launched a desperate operation on Sunday to clear wrecked homes, roads and power lines after hurricane-force winds killed 15 people, including four children inside a sports hall near Barcelona.

…One the fiercest storms to hit Europe in more than a decade, the winds came in from the Atlantic and tore into southwest France and northern Spain ripping roofs off houses, pulling down power lines and flattening hundreds of thousands of trees. More than 1.1 million homes in France and hundreds of thousands in Spain remained without power on Sunday. Electricity workers were brought in from Britain, Germany and Portugal to help hundreds sent from the rest of France to patch up power supplies.

A dozen helicopters were sent out to estimate the damage to the French electricity network, which the state electric company said could be worse than a hurricane which battered a wider area of France in 1999.

In Perpignan, near the French-Spanish border, the winds were recorded at 184 kilometres (114 miles) an hour. Fallen trees hampered police and other emergency services from getting to many alerts and brought trains and bus services to a halt. Many rail routes were still cut on Sunday.

"It's the apocalypse," said Peio Poueyts, an official in the tourism office in the French city of Biarritz on the Atlantic coast. Much of the Gironde and Landes regions of southwest France have key forestry industries but huge areas were flattened by the storm, officials said….

A postcard of Perpignan, France, where extremely high winds were recorded. Claimed as personal work by kikiarg, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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