More than ten dead as Storm Eunice hits electricity and transport in Northern Europe

Emergency crews struggled Saturday to restore electricity to more than a million homes and businesses a day after Storm Eunice cut a deadly path across Europe and left transportation networks in disarray.

Emergency services said at least 14 people died from falling trees, flying debris and high winds in Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Poland.

Police in the Belgian city of Ghent confirmed the latest victim: a 37-year-old man who was hit in the head by a flying solar panel, and died of his injuries on Saturday.

Train operators in Britain urged people not to travel, after most of the network was shut down when Eunice brought the strongest wind gust ever recorded in England – 122 miles (196 kilometres) per hour.

In Brentwood, east London, a 400-year-old tree crashed into the house and bedroom where Sven Judd worked from home, as millions of other Britons heeded government advice to stay home.

Jade, 23, said he heard “a screeching and then a huge bang and the whole house shivered.”

“I could feel the whole roof over me. It was very terrifying,” he told Sky News, adding that none of the passengers were hurt.

The train network in the Netherlands has also been paralyzed, with Eurostar and Thales international services from Britain and France not operating after damage to overhead power lines.

France also suffers from rail disruptions and blackouts, as do Ireland and Germany, where rail operator Deutsche Bahn said “more than 1,000 km” (620 miles) of rail was damaged.

1.1 million customers in Poland were still without power on Saturday afternoon, officials said, after the country’s northwest was hit by a crisis.

“I plead with you: please stay home!” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a Facebook post.

“We are constantly monitoring the situation, the appropriate services are working. The fire brigade has already intervened more than 12,000 times,” he said.

In the UK, 226,000 homes and businesses remained without power after another 1.2 million were reconnected.

‘Explosive storms’ Eunice triggered the first-ever ‘red’ weather warning in London on Friday. It was one of the most powerful storms in Europe since the “Great Storm” hit Britain and northern France in 1987.

Scientists said the two storms contained a “stinging jet,” a rarely seen meteorological phenomenon caused by the unusual meeting of pressure systems in the Atlantic that amplified Eunice’s effects.

The Met Office, Britain’s weather service, on Saturday issued a less severe “yellow” wind warning for much of the southern coast of England and southern Wales, which it said “could hamper recovery efforts from Storm Eunice”.

The UK’s total bill for damages could exceed 300 million pounds ($410 million, 360 million euros), according to the Federation of British Insurers, based on repairs from previous storms.

At the height of the storm, planes struggled to land in heavy winds, as documented by YouTube’s Big Jet TV channel, which aired massive catch-up attempts from London’s Heathrow Airport.

Hundreds of other flights at Heathrow, Gatwick and Seafoll in Amsterdam have been canceled or delayed.

Part of the roof of London’s O2 square has torn, and a church tower in historic Wales, southwest England, has overturned.

Ferries across the Channel, the world’s busiest shipping lane, were suspended before the English port of Dover reopened on Friday afternoon.

Experts said the frequency and intensity of storms could not necessarily be linked to climate change.

But Richard Allan, professor of climate sciences at the University of Reading, said global warming is leading to torrential rains and rising sea levels.

Therefore, he said, “Coastal storm surge and prolonged flooding will only get worse when these rare explosive storms hit us in a warmer world.”

(AFP)

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