Sunday, January 25, 2009

Europe storms leave 15 dead

Massive storms have left more than a dozen dead and millions of people without power in southern France and Spain. Winds packing speeds in excess of 180 km/h brought down power lines, trees and infrastructure across a wide area of southern France.

In Spain four children died after the roof of a sports hall collapsed. Around 20 to 30 had sought shelter in the centre in the small town of Sant Boi de Llobregat in Catalonia. Following the collapse local people and fire-fighters helped free the survivors from the rubble but three children aged between nine and 12 died at the scene. A fourth child died later in hospital. At least a dozen others received treatment for injures.

The storms which are said to be the worst in ten years brought widespread power outages. Transport links have also been disrupted with uprooted trees blocking many roads and rail links. Airports in the region were also closed.

Although at least 15 people have so far died in this year’s storms, the death toll is still well below the 88 that died in the December 1999 storms [BBC / Sky News / CNN / France 24].

Britain has also suffered from extreme weather with heavy rain causing localised flooding in many areas. And in Scotland three people were killed after being caught in an avalanche [BBC]

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