Spain Collaspse
© Manu Fernandez/The Associated PressRescuers working Saturday after part of a sports center collapsed in high winds, killing four children.

Madrid - At least 10 people, including four children, were killed as high winds struck Spain and France on Saturday, tearing roofs from buildings, blowing down trees and power lines and whipping up huge waves.

The Spanish authorities said the four children were killed and several others injured near Barcelona on Saturday when the roof of a sports center collapsed in high winds. A spokeswoman for the Catalan government said the children had been sheltering from the wind in the sports hall in Sant Boi de Llobregat, just south of Barcelona, when the roof and some of the walls collapsed.

Jaume Bosch, mayor of Sant Boi, said the children were 9 to 12 years old, according to the Web site of La Vanguardia, a Barcelona-based newspaper. The spokeswoman, who spoke on condition of anonymity under government rules, said seven other children and two adults were injured, one of them seriously. Emergency services had pulled everyone free of the rubble of the building by midafternoon, she said.

Photographs of the collapsed building on the Web site of La Vanguardia showed a large, corrugated iron roof caved in over a pile of concrete rubble. Witnesses said about 30 children had been preparing to play baseball and decided to take shelter inside the building.

José Antonio Godina, a parent of one of the children in the sports center who was quoted by the Web site of El Mundo newspaper, said the scene was "horrific."

"We heard a very loud noise and we thought it was a tree falling on a roof," he said. "But when we got there, the roof of the building had literally flown off and the walls had collapsed on them."

The newspaper did not say whether Godina's child was among the injured.

In northern Spain and southern France, the gales, which reached 160 kilometers an hour, or 100 miles an hour, cut power supplies and closed airports and roads.

The authorities on both sides of the border called on people to stay indoors and stay clear of beaches and harbors as eight-meter waves pounded the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts.

The local authorities in the Landes region of France said one person was killed and one seriously injured when a tree fell on a car, according to Reuters. In Spain, the police said three other people had been killed in Catalonia, one by a falling wall and two by falling trees. Two men, including one police officer, were killed in the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia, the police said.

In France, the national power grid manager, Électricité Réseau Distribution France, said nearly 1.2 million homes were cut off. Fecsa, the electricity grid manager in Catalonia, said tens of thousands of people in the northeastern region of four million inhabitants were without power.

The French agriculture minister, Michel Barnier, said the storm was "the worst since 1999," when a huge storm killed 88 people in France and left nearly four million people without electricity, according to Reuters. He said France would call on the European Union to help finance reconstruction efforts once the extent of the damage becomes clear.

The French interior minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, said she had ordered that 700 extra security forces be sent to the region to help with rescue efforts and that extra equipment also be sent to help clear roads and electric lines.