Video: Thousands without power after storm kills at least 15

Irishman among dead in hurricane-force winds which spread across northern Europe

Pedestrians and cyclists in Brussels braved fierce winds on Monday (October 28) as a powerful storm lashed Britain, Belgium, France and the Netherlands with winds of more than 150 kmph (90 mph).

Tue, Oct 29, 2013, 15:48

Tens of thousands of people are without power in parts of northern Europe today after one of the most powerful storm to hit the region in years resulted in at least 15 deaths.

The coastal storm, dubbed St Jude, was powered by hurricane-force gusts that hit Britain and also continued to much of northern Europe, causing at least 15 deaths.

Six people died in Germany, five people died in Britain including one Irishman, two people were killed in Denmark, while one person died in both France and the Netherlands.

Tens of thousands of people are without power today in the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia and Latvia while many commuters faced delays to their journeys.

The storm, which moved over Scandinavia, has been replaced in the UK with far lighter winds and rain, but dozens of areas in southern England remain on flood alert, the UK’s Environment Agency said.

Power and commuters

Latest figures from UK Power Networks show that some 48,000 properties in the East and 9,600 in the South East still have no electricity, more than 24 hours after the first outages.

Around half a million homes and businesses are thought to have been affected since the storm first touched the British mainland overnight on Sunday.

While many UK train services have been reinstated following yesterday’s severely disrupted operations, rail users were still asked to check travel times as delays were reported. Some services such as the Stansted Express from the London airport to the city were disrupted.

Ferries which had been cancelled between Britain and Ireland are due to run today. Eurocontrol said the level of flight delay across Europe was much better today at quite low levels . London’s Heathrow airport said operations were returning to normal.

Train passengers in Denmark spent the night in a sports hall due to fallen trees on the tracks. The storm left a trail of uprooted trees, damaged buildings and collapsed scaffoldings across the country.

Nearly 1,100 passengers had to ride out the storm on a heaving ferry from Newcastle in Britain to the Dutch port of Ijmuiden after strong winds and heavy seas blocked it from docking in the morning. The ship returned to the North Sea to wait for the wind to die down rather than risk being smashed against the harbour’s walls.

Germany

In Germany four people were killed in three separate accidents involving trees falling on cars. A sailor near Cologne was killed on Sunday when his boat capsized and a fisherman drowned north-east of the city.

In addition to widespread rail disruptions, both Dusseldorf and Hamburg airports saw many flights cancelled, stranding more than 1,000 passengers.

The Netherlands

Amsterdam was one of the hardest-hit cities as the storm surged up the Dutch coast. Powerful wind gusts toppled trees into canals in the capital’s historic centre and sent branches tumbling onto rail and tram lines, halting almost all public transport. Commuters faced long struggles to get home.

Ferries in the Baltic Sea, including between Denmark and Sweden, were cancelled after the Swedish Meteorological Institute upgraded its storm warning to the highest possible level, class 3, which indicates “very extreme weather that could pose great danger”

A woman died in Amsterdam when a tree fell on her. A 24-year-old man who was struck on the head by a branch while cycling in the central city of Veenendaal died in hospital.

Fifty flights at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport were cancelled and Rotterdam Port, Europe’s busiest, said incoming and outgoing vessels were delayed.

France

In France, a 47-year-old woman was found dead after being swept out to sea during a cliff walk on Belle Ile, an island off France’s northwestern Brittany coast where the high winds generated waves of 5 to 6 metres, local authorities said.
Thousands of homes in north-western France also lost electricity, while in the Netherlands several rail lines shut down and airports faced delays.

Denmark

A Danish man was killed in Gilleleje, north of the capital Copenhagen, by a collapsing wall and a woman was injured when she was trapped under a fallen roof in the province of Jutland.

Trains were cancelled in southern Sweden and Denmark. Winds blew off roofs, with debris reportedly breaking the legs of one man. Near Copenhagen, the storm ripped down the scaffolding from a five-storey apartment building.

Copenhagen’s Kastrup Airport saw delays as strong gusts prevented passengers from using boarding bridges to disembark from planes to the terminals.

Sweden

Gusts in classified as hurricane force - battered Scandinavia from mid-afternoon yesterday, closing the bridge between Sweden and Denmark and paralysing road and rail transport.

As evening fell there were no reports of injuries in Sweden but widespread reports of damage with roofs blown off buildings and trees and overturned trucks blocking roads.

Irishman

Irishman 51-year-old Donal Drohan, originally from Waterford, died after a tree fell on his car as he drove through Watford north of London shortly before 7am yesterday. Mr Drohan had been living in Harrow.

Tributes have been paid to Mr Drohan, described as “a loving husband and father of three”. His family said: “He was the best husband and father anyone could wish for. You couldn’t find anyone who had a bad word to say about him. He was very supportive to everybody who knew him and couldn’t say no to helping out with anything. He was an active member of the community who was involved with local groups and had recently helped Team Harrow of The Challenge Network helping to shape the lives of hundreds of young people within the local community.”

Mr Drohan was a long-serving local authority employee.

Susan Hall, leader of Harrow Council, said: “This is an absolute tragedy and everyone is devastated. Donal was one of our public realm managers and had worked for us for nearly 25 years. He was always cheerful, and passionate about his job keeping our streets clean. His council colleagues are finding this very hard to deal with. Our thoughts are with Donal’s family both here and in Ireland. ”

Bethany Freeman (17) was also killed as she lay sleeping when a tree fell on to the caravan she and her family were living in while renovation work was taking place at their home at Edenbridge in Kent.

A man and a woman were found dead in west London after several houses were damaged in a suspected gas explosion on a street where the storm blew a tree down. London police said the tree may have damaged gas pipes, causing the explosion. A crane smashed into the British cabinet office forcing deputy prime minister Nick Clegg to cancel a news conference.

Cost

Insurers are counting the cost of the storm but say it is too early to tell whether it will compare with the multibillion-euro hits caused by previous severe weather events. Initial estimates of the level of financial damage wrought are not expected until later this week, the Association of British Insurers said.

Remain Alert

UK Met Office spokeswoman Laura Young warned that the impacts from the storm are still around and urged the public to remain alert.

John Lee, a forecaster for the MeteoGroup, said it was the most powerful storm in years. “There will no doubt be some disruption still following the damage caused by strong winds and heavy rain, but the weather will be quite different,” he said. “It will be blustery with some showers, especially in the west, but a lot lighter.

“On Friday there is an indication that stormy weather could return, but it’s likely to bring heavy rain rather than strong winds.”

Experts said that, while the gales were relatively weak compared with the Great Storm of 1987, it had shown how much weather predictions have improved compared with 26 years ago.

PA/AP