France - February 28th, 2010
At least 45 people have been killed in storms that have lashed parts of Spain, Portugal and France, officials say. Forty of the victims died in western France, where many drowned or were hit by parts of buildings or falling trees.
The windstorm system, named Xynthia, has put five of the 95 French departments on red alert – only the second such warning since the new emergency system was introduced in 2001. Here, the storm can be seen over northern France. Upon opening the full image, Spain and Portugal are visible to the south, and Norway can be seen to the north.
Winds of up to 140km/h (87mph) caused chaos as they moved from Portugal up through the Bay of Biscay. Upon reaching Paris, wind speeds hitting 175km/h at the top of the Eiffel Tower, were reported. The storm system is moving north-eastwards and was expected to reach Denmark by the evening of the 28th, French meteorological authorities said.
Worst affected are the Vendee and Charente-Maritime regions on the western coast of France. Huge waves and strong gusts battered many coastal towns, spreading floods inland and destroying buildings. Residents took to their roofs in the Vendee region and police helicopters were in action attempting to locate and rescue them.
At least a dozen people are said to be missing in France and 59 others injured. In Germany, a man was killed and his wife injured when a tree fell on their car in the Black Forest region. Earlier on Sunday a falling tree killed two Spanish men in a car near Burgos. A Spanish woman was killed by a falling wall in Galicia, and a Portuguese boy was killed by a tree in Paredes.
More than a million homes in France have lost electricity. Rail services were severely affected in northern Spain and a number of trains in western France were delayed because of flooded tracks. Air France said 70 of its flights had been cancelled from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Spain’s Canary Islands, particularly La Palma, Gran Canaria and Tenerife, were also hit by the storm, although there was no great damage.