Icy winter storms with hurricane-force winds Friday lashed northern Europe, where the death toll rose to nine while hundreds of thousands were left without power or stranded by transport chaos.
© AFP/ Bernd Wustneck
People stand on a dune while storm front Xaver hits the shore of Rostock-Warne-muende, northern Germany, December 6, 2013
Emergency services across the region battled overnight to evacuate flooded harbour areas, sandbag sodden dykes and repair damage from toppled trees that crashed onto houses, roads, train tracks and power lines. Atlantic storm "Xaver", having barrelled across Britain where two people died Thursday, packed winds of up to 158 kilometres (98 miles) per hour as it hit Germany, also battering the Netherlands, Poland and southern Scandinavia.
Blackouts hit 400,000 homes in Poland and affected 50,000 people in Sweden, while thousands of air passengers were stranded as flights were cancelled at Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg, Gdansk and other airports. In Germany alone, more than 500 flights were scrapped, said an online travel portal, while dozens of trains were also cancelled.
© AFP/Justin Tallis
A postman looks at a flooded street in Lowest-oft, eastern England on December 6, 2013
The highest ocean swells in decades - due to the combined effect of strong winds and a large tidal surge - smashed into dykes in northern Germany and the Netherlands, which however reported no major breaches. The total death toll rose further, with one man killed by a falling tree in southern Sweden, and three died in Poland. "A tree crashed down onto a car on a local road" near the northern Polish town of Lembork, said firefighter spokesman Bogdan Madej, quoted by television station Polsat News.
"Three people died on the spot, another was taken to hospital." The previous day in Britain, a lorry driver died when his vehicle toppled onto other cars in Scotland, while a man riding a mobility scooter was struck by a falling tree in Nottinghamshire, central England.