Deadly storm batters Netherlands and Germany

Five killed including one in Belgium as trains and flights cancelled across northwest Europe

 

At least five people were killed on Thursday after a powerful storm lashed northwest Europe, damaging property and throwing public transport into chaos.

Police in the Netherlands said three people were killed by falling trees or debris in separate incidents, while a 59-year-old man died in Germany.

The German railway operator Deutsche Bahn said it had suspended all long-distance rail services due to the storm.

Schiphol airport in Amsterdam suspended all flights and the Dutch national rail service halted all trains.

Police in the eastern province of Overijssel said in a tweet that a 62-year-old man died after being hit in the face by a falling tree branch.

They say another 62-year-old man died in the eastern city of Enschede after a falling tree hit his car.

In the central town of Vuren, a 66-year-old man died after falling several metres. Police are investigating the cause, including whether the storm was to blame.

Meanwhile in Belgium, a driver was killed when a tree collapsed on to her car south of Brussels early on Thursday morning, and several other people were injured by flying debris in the rest of the country as the storm picked up in intensity during the day.

Schiphol tweeted shortly after 11am local time that it was halting all take-offs and landings “until further notice” because of the severe weather conditions.

Flag carrier KLM had already cancelled more than 200 flights before the storm.

National broadcaster NOS reported that the main railway station in The Hague was closed because of fears that parts of its new glass roof would be blown off by Thursday’s storm.

Traffic on Dutch roads was plunged into chaos, with the wind blowing over trucks and toppling trees and hampering efforts to clean up the mess. In Amsterdam, authorities halted all trams.

The national weather service said it recorded wind gusts of up to 140 km/h in the southern port of Hook of Holland as the storm passed over the Dutch coast.

Water authorities in the low-lying Netherlands also were closely monitoring the storm and preparing to close locks and storm barriers if necessary because of high-water levels.

Numerous incidents

Before halting all trains, the Dutch rail service reported numerous incidents including a collision between a train and a trampoline. The service had no further details of the collision.

In Amsterdam, a man had a narrow escape when a tree was blown over onto his scooter. He escaped unhurt.

Neighbouring Belgium also was being lashed by the storm with the port of Ghent closed because of the high winds.

Belgium set off its code orange alert – the second highest storm warning – for the north of the country early Thursday and tram traffic had to be halted in parts of the capital Brussels, where several public parks had to be closed.

In Germany, some 100,000 people in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and in the northern state of Lower Saxony were left without power, a spokesman for the energy company Westnetz said. He said the company hoped to restore power within hours, provided the storm did not cause further damage.

In Munich, eight domestic flights by Lufthansa were cancelled, the airport operator said. – Reuters/AP