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Nine killed as violent gales hit Europe: Buildings collapse, trucks overturn and planes grounded

Berlin: Nine people including two firefighters were killed as violent gales battered northern Europe, snapping air and train links.

Germany halted all long-distance rail traffic for at least a day, while numerous domestic flights were scrapped as hurricane-force winds lashed the country. The storm claimed six lives in Germany, including two firefighters deployed in emergency operations and two truck drivers whose vehicles were blown over by the gales.

Another driver died when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed in to a truck.

A 59-year-old camper was killed instantly when a tree fell on him in North Rhine-Westphalia state, German police said, as wind speeds reached a high of 203 kilometres an hour (126 mph) at the Brocken — the highest peak of northern Germany.

The storm, named Friederike, also ripped the roof off a school in the eastern state of Thueringia while children were still in the building. Authorities said no one was hurt there. In the Bavarian alps, the strong gales forced the cancellation of a ski world championship qualifier at Oberstdorf.

An agricultural building is collapsed during a heavy storm in Meimbressen, central Germany. AP

An agricultural building collapsed during a heavy storm in Meimbressen, central Germany. AP

It is the worst storm to strike Germany since 2007, according to the German weather service.

Passengers stuck at rail stations were given a voucher for a hotel room, German rail service Deutsche Bahn spokesman Achim Strauss said. "We must have protect our passengers and our staff," he added, without saying when the rail service would return to normal.

In the Netherlands, which had borne the brunt of the severe winter storms earlier Thursday, two people were crushed by falling trees as bitter winds barrelled off the North Sea to hit the low-lying country with full force.

As the national weather service raised its warning to the highest code red level, a 62-year-old man was killed in the central Dutch town of Olst by a falling branch when he got out of his truck to remove debris blocking the road.

A second Dutchman, also 62, was killed in eastern Enschede when a tree toppled onto his car, the Dutch news agency ANP said. In neighbouring Belgium, a woman driver reportedly died when her car was crushed by a tree as she was travelling through a wood in the Grez-Doiceau area, about 35 kilometres south of Brussels.

Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, one of the continent's busiest travel hubs, was forced to briefly cancel all flights as winds gusted up to 140 kilometres an hour in some areas. Flights later resumed but all passengers were being advised to check their flight status, the airport said in a tweet, adding "up until now, 320 flights have been cancelled".

The airport also had to close the entrances to two of its three departure halls when some roof tiles were whipped off the terminal building.


Updated Date: Jan 19, 2018 12:11 PM

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