Sunday, March 3, 2024

Storm brings strong winds to Northern Europe, killing 2 people and disrupting transport

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The storm has brought heavy rain and strong winds across northern Europe, toppling trees and triggering flood warnings along the North Sea coast.

BERLIN — A storm brought heavy rain and strong winds across northern Europe overnight into Friday, toppling trees and triggering flood warnings along the North Sea coast. A woman was fatally injured by a falling Christmas tree in Belgium, and a person was killed by another tree in the Netherlands.

A 63-year-old woman was killed and two others injured when a 20-meter (65-foot) Christmas tree fell on three people at a busy market in Oudenaarde in western Belgium late Thursday. The Christmas market was canceled immediately.

A woman who was hit by a falling tree in the eastern Dutch town of Willp on Thursday later died from her injuries, her employer announced.

In some parts of Germany, pre-Christmas train travelers faced cancellations, delays and diversions. The affected routes included those from Hamburg and Hannover to Frankfurt and Munich.

National railway operator Deutsche Bahn said fallen trees damaged overhead power lines and cut off tracks, mainly in northern Germany but also in the central state of Hessen. The situation had improved by Friday afternoon.

In Hamburg, the Elbe River flooded roads around the city’s fish market, with water reaching waist-deep in some places. The storm surge in the port city peaked on Friday morning, reaching 3.3 meters (10.8 feet) above the average high tide height, authorities said.

Roads near ports in several Dutch North Sea towns, including The Hague’s seaside suburb of Scheveningen, were flooded overnight.

The huge Maeslankering seawall, which protects Rotterdam from high seas, has closed automatically for the first time due to high water levels. This means that all six major sea walls protecting lowland areas in the Netherlands have been closed at the same time. The country’s water and infrastructure authority also said this was a first. By Friday morning, the winds had died down and all six sea walls were reopened.

In the North Sea on Thursday, the Norwegian cruise ship MS Mode encountered rough seas and temporarily lost power. In a statement, operator Hurtigruten Expeditions said none of the 266 passengers and 131 crew members were injured and the ship, which had originally headed to the port of Tilbury in the UK, was diverted to Bremerhaven, Germany for disembarkation. .

The Danish Search and Rescue Service said the ship was “manoeuvrable via emergency systems and there were two civilian support vessels nearby.”

Strong winds grounded planes in parts of the UK on Thursday, halted train services and halted Scottish ferries. British Airways announced that air traffic restrictions put in place due to the storm continued to affect flights between the UK and other European countries on Friday.



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