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