WARSAW - Winds of more than 200 kph tore into Poland and the Czech Republic, uprooting trees and tearing down power lines after leaving a trail of damage across northern Europe that has killed at least 27 people.

Germany and Britain faced further disruptions to rail and air travel on Friday after high winds left thousands of households without electricity.

German airline Deutsche Lufthansa said it expected many flights to be cancelled or delayed, especially at Frankfurt airport, as winds remained strong. National rail operator Deutsche Bahn also expected major disruptions.

London's Heathrow Airport said short-haul and domestic flights were suffering some cancellations and delays.

Seven people died in Germany when the storm hit on Thursday. In Britain, where winds gusted up to 160 kph in the worst storms in 17 years, eight people were killed. Six deaths were reported in Poland, three more died in the Czech Republic and three people died in the Netherlands.

Strong winds damaged a terminal roof at Prague international airport, causing some flight delays.

More than one million Czech customers faced power cuts and fallen trees disrupted travel on the nation's railways.

Meteorologists reported gusts of wind reaching up to 216 kph at the top of the Czech Republic's highest mountain, Snezka.


In mountains in the south of Poland the wind exceeded 200 kph and some border crossings were closed, TVN24 television reported on Friday.

A lorry driver was killed by a falling tree and one man died when a crane he was operating collapsed, the station said. Another person died when the roof of his house was torn off.

In Szczecin on the western Baltic coast a hotel was evacuated after an uprooted tree fell on a gas tank. The wind is expected to ease as the day progresses.

In Hungary, where the strongest winds reached 108 kph, the fire brigade was called out more than 400 times, mostly due to fallen trees.

In Switzerland, winds gusted to 130 kph overnight, knocking down trees and delaying flights.

Authorities warned people to stay home, but Swiss Television showed thrill-seeking windsurfers out in gale-force winds on Lake Neuchatel.

Overnight, German railways were practically shut down.

"We will now resume services track by track," Deutsche Bahn spokesman Volker Knauer told ZDF television.

Berlin central railway station, Europe's biggest rail crossing hub, remained closed after the wind ripped a huge steel support from the facade and hurled it to the ground.

The storm, "Kyrill", generated winds of up to 200 kph, uprooting trees, damaging buildings and leaving thousands without electricity. In the state of Brandenburg alone over 150,000 households suffered power cuts overnight.

"There are still almost 60,000 households without electricity," said Hans-Werner Meienberg, head of the centre for disaster control in Brandenburg.

Around 20,000 households lost electricity as the storm ploughed into Upper Austria.

In Britain, calmer weather was forecast for Friday but strong winds were still making driving hazardous.

The risk of flooding remained high and train operators GNER and Virgin said they would be running a reduced service as they cleared debris from tracks and repaired overhead power lines.