14 Dead as Storms, Floods Hit Northern Europe

January 10, 2005

A severe winter storm, packing winds up to 150 km/hr (94 mph) and heavy rains has paralyzed much of Northern Europe, caused at least 14 deaths, knocked out power over wide areas and severely interrupted sea, air and land transport.

The storm lashed Northern England and Scotland Saturday night and on into Sunday. Three people died after floods hit the northern England City of Carlisle. The BBC reported that thousands of people in the city had been moved into temporary accommodation as some 70,000 homes lost power in the flooding.

A ferry ran aground off the West Coast of Scotland, forcing some 100 passengers to remain on board overnight until rescue operations could begin. Weather forecasters in Britain said this was probably one of the worst storms in 16 years. They have issued some 28 flood warnings.

In Sweden at least four people died when trees were blown on to their cars. Over 405,000 homes and businesses were without electric power, due to fallen power lines and the temporary closing of two nuclear power plants as a precautionary measure. Bridges and rail links have been closed and all ferry services have been suspended until the storm subsides.

In Denmark two people were reported to have died from storm related injuries, and many thousands of households also suffered power cuts. Norway, Finland and the Northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein also reported significant property damage and power outages, but no deaths; however several persons have been reported missing.

As the storm moved into the Baltic it brought chaos to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and parts of Russia. The weather station in the Estonian capital Tallinn reported 12-meter (37.2-foot) high waves in the Gulf of Finland. Latvia’s state power company, Latvenergo, said 60 percent of the country’s population of 2.4 million was without electricity on Sunday.

The Association of British Insurers posted the following advice on its Web site: “Property owners who have suffered damage in the recent storms and floods should arrange any emergency temporary repairs as soon as possible. Most household policies offer 24-hour emergency helplines, and policyholders should contact their insurers as soon as possible. Damage to vehicles will be covered under fully comprehensive insurance. It is too early to assess the cost of the insured damage. Insurers will deal with claims as quickly as possible.”

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