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6 Dec, 2013 15:34

9 dead, thousands affected as storm Xaver sweeps east across Europe (PHOTOS)

9 dead, thousands affected as storm Xaver sweeps east across Europe (PHOTOS)

Hundreds of thousands have been left without power or stranded by transportation chaos as the storm Xaver is sweeping across northern Europe. At least nine people have died in the disaster.

Emergency services across the region battled overnight to sandbag sodden dykes, evacuate flooded harbor areas and repair damage from toppled trees that crashed onto houses, roads and power lines.

Atlantic storm Xaver swept into northern Europe late Thursday after disrupting transport and power in northern Britain where two people have died.

The winds of up to 158 kilometers per hour barreled across Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and southern parts of Scandinavia.

Blackouts hit 400,000 homes in Poland and affected 50,000 people in Sweden, while thousands of air passengers were stranded as flights were canceled at Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg, Gdansk and other airports, AFP reports.

In the Polish town of Poraj, the branch of a huge tree was thrown into a car by a strong wind Friday. Three people were killed and one injured in the accident, Reuters reports.

The disaster, considered the worst storm to hit the continent in decades, also killed two people and injured dozens in the UK as winds reached maximum speeds of 225 kilometers per hour. A truck driver died when his vehicle overturned, with another man being killed by a falling tree.

Around 10,000 Britons were evacuated from their homes in low-lying east coast areas on Thursday, with the authorities warning that the danger hasn’t passed yet.

The UK is facing the most serious tidal surge for more than 60 years as sea levels in some areas exceed those during the devastating floods of 1953, which saw over 300 killed.

Emergency services personnel stand on the beach near a chalet home that was drawn into th sea during a tidal surge at Hemsby, in the east of England, on December 6, 2013. (AFP Photo / Justin Tallis)

Several beachside houses, a lifeboat hut and a cafe fell into the sea following the storm in Norfolk, the Daily Mail reports.

“It just happened so fast yesterday. One minute it was safe and the next minute it was gone,” Steven Connelly, a beachside house owner affected by the storm, told the paper.

The flood defenses erected in Britain after the 1953 events had protected more than 800,000 homes, Owen Paterson, the UK’s Environment Secretary, said after an emergency government meeting Friday.
In Denmark, a 72-year-old female passenger of a truck died when the vehicle overturned in howling winds.

Sweden’s coast guards are searching the sea for two sailors who were washed off the deck of a Dutch cargo ship 22 kilometers, The Local website reports.

Waves hit the sea front on December 6, 2013 in Raageleje, north of Copenhagen, as storm Haver hits Denmark. (AFP Photo / Scanpix Denmark / Keld Navntoft / Denmark out)

Several ferry crossings to and from Sweden were canceled, with a decision made to halt trains in the south of the country.

“We did not want to run the risk of crashing into a tree flying at 160 kilometers an hour,”
Linus Eriksson from Swedish rail service SJ told the TT news agency. At least one person has already died in the south of the country after a tree fell in the fierce gusts of wind.

About 4,000 people remain without power in northern Germany, with schools closed and about 70 flights at Hamburg airport canceled. The country’s rail operator, Deutsche Bahn, said that the debris blocked a high-speed line between the country’s largest cities, Hamburg and Berlin.

Floodwaters in the port of Hamburg rose to 6 meters above normal levels early Friday, the highest in decades, the officials said.

Meanwhile, Xaver continues moving eastward, with storm alert declared in Kaliningrad, the western Russian enclave on the coast of the Baltic Sea.

A boat lying on the side, on December 6, 2013 in Thorsminde Harbour, on the west coast iin Jutland as storm Haver hits Denmark. (AFP Photo / Scanpix Denmark / Keld Navntoft / Denmark out)

Cars stand in a traffic jam during heavy snow falls in Olpe, Germany, on December 6, 2013. (AFP Photo / DPA / Marius Becker / Germany out)