Strong storm causes 4 deaths in Poland, damage across Europe

Oct 20, 2021, 12:53 PM | Updated: Oct 21, 2021, 11:22 am
Firefighters  stand besides a fallen tree in Chemnitz, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. Germany is...

Firefighters stand besides a fallen tree in Chemnitz, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. Germany is hit by heavy rain and storms. (Bernd Maerz/dpa via AP)

(Bernd Maerz/dpa via AP)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A powerful autumn storm blasted across parts of Europe on Thursday, killing four people in Poland and causing damage and disruption across a large swath of the continent.

According to reports in Polish media, the hardest-hit area was around the western city of Wroclaw, where powerful gusts topped a delivery truck, killing its driver. Elsewhere, the storm knocked down a wall of a building being renovated, crushing a worker to death, and a tree was blown onto a car carrying two people, killing them both.

TVN24 reported that a concrete wall collapsed in the capital, Warsaw, injuring a woman who was hospitalized.

The storm swept ashore in the Brittany region of France’s Atlantic coast on Wednesday, where it toppled trees, damaged buildings and knocked out power to a quarter of a million homes by Thursday morning.

Train services were disrupted by uprooted trees littering tracks in France, Germany and the Netherlands and many buildings’ roofs were damaged, including at part of the stadium used by the professional soccer club in the Belgian port city of Antwerp.

A tornado early Thursday caused damage in Schwentinental, a town near the German Baltic Sea port city of Kiel. Fire service official Kai Laessig told German news agency dpa that it destroyed greenhouses and brought down trees, which hit cars, but no one was injured. Several houses were damaged.

Local media reported that four people were injured in the Dutch town of Barendrecht, on the southern edge of Rotterdam, as strong gusts ripped tiles off roofs and uprooted trees in a residential neighborhood in the early hours of the morning.

The storm also hit parts of southern England with heavy rainfall and strong winds prompting flood warnings. The U.K.’s Environment Agency said the Thames Barrier was closed to protect London from flooding. It said the move will protect the capital “from a high tide as a result of low pressure and northerly winds coinciding with spring tides.”

Wind speeds reached 175 kilometers per hour (109 mph) in the town of Fecamp in northern France’s Normandy region, according to the weather service.

Blown-down trees toppled power lines, and the Enedis utility said 250,000 homes were without electricity as of Thursday morning.

Train travel was disrupted in Normandy and the Champagne-Ardennes region, as well as on some commuter routes in the Paris region, according to the SNCF national rail authority.

The Dutch rail network also was disrupted Thursday morning by trees that had blown onto railroad tracks.

Germany’s national railway operator, Deutsche Bahn, temporarily suspended all long-distance trains in North Rhine-Westphalia state – the country’s most populous, which borders the Netherlands and Belgium. The company said there were cancelations and delays in other parts of Germany as well.

The storm hit northern Belgium hard around Antwerp, snapping many trees, spilling scaffolding onto the streets and blowing some trucks off roads. It also tore off part of the roof of Antwerp FC’s stadium.

Germany’s national weather service warned of gusts ranging up to 105 kph (65 mph) in the north and northeast of the country on Thursday, and up to 120 kph in mountainous areas. But there were no immediate reports of significant damage.

During the night, a freight train collided with a fallen branch in Bad Godesberg, a suburb of Bonn.

Berlin’s two zoos closed as a precaution for the day because of the forecast high winds and the animals were brought into indoor enclosures. In Erfurt, in central Germany, cemeteries were closed as a precaution.

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Strong storm causes 4 deaths in Poland, damage across Europe