European countries reel from deadly storms

Britain and France worst hit, as hurricane-force winds and torrential rain cause transport chaos amid Christmas rush.

    Deadly hurricane-force winds and torrential rain have brought havoc to transport networks Britain and France.

    The death toll rose to at least six people on Tuesday, as winds of up to 145kph hit both sides of the Channel with heavy downpours causing flooding, traffic jams, and cancellations of rail, flight and ferry services.

    Aidan McGivern, a meteorologist, told Al Jazeera people were preparing themselves for more bad weather.

    Analysts expect the storms to hurt retailers eager to cash in on the traditional Christmas rush [EPA]

    In Britain, the number of people killed in two days of storms rose to at least five after a man died trying to rescue his dog from fast-flowing waters in Devon, southwest England.

    A teenager died in France on Monday after a wall collapsed on him.

    Airports in southern England were disrupted, with some flights from Britain's busiest airport, Heathrow, cancelled or delayed.

    Britain's second busiest airport, Gatwick, said one terminal had been hit by a major power outage on Tuesday and storm damage had temporarily cut all trains to the airport.

    Several hundred passengers were stranded at the airport and airport police had to be called in to help deal with angry passengers.

    British train operators cancelled hundreds of services on Tuesday morning, by which time the storm had abated, leaving hundreds of thousands of people scrambling to get on to later services in and out of London.

    Thousands without power

    Brittany and Normandy were among the regions worst hit in France, where 240,000 homes lost electricity, while in southern England, 150,000 homes were cut off from the power grid, the Energy Networks Association said.

    Energy company Southern Electric said that some customers would be without power on Christmas Day.

    McGivern told Al Jazeera another storm was expected to strike on Friday.

    "That is expected to bring another spell of wet and windy weather," he said.

    IHS analyst Howard Archer said the weather was expected to hurt British retailers, eager to cash in on the traditional pre Christmas rush.

    "Given retailers' hopes that the last couple of days before Christmas would see a final strong surge in sales, the awful weather could not have come at a worse time," Archer said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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