Winter storm brings death and destruction in France

Many parts of the country hit by torrential rain and damaging winds.

France winds
There were many injuries and some fatalities reported. [Fred Tanneau/AFP]

A major late winter storm brought a swath of damage to France on Monday afternoon. From Britanny in the northwest, to Auvergne and the Rhone-Alpes regions in the southeast, storm Zeus, as it was known in Europe, brought winds of more than 190 kilometres per hour and torrential rain.

It was reported that a gust of 193km/h happened in Camaret, Britanny. Other reported winds were lower, but still impressive: 173km/h on Mont Aigoual, the highest point of the Massif Central, 159km/h at Cap Camarat, between Nice and Toulon, and 169km/h at Cap Corse on the island of Corsica.

The low-pressure system moved through the region quite quickly, but it still managed to drop between 25 and 40mm in some areas. The rain was heavy enough to force the closure of a motorway into Paris. There were also numerous lightning strikes.

The winds brought down trees and power lines. At one point, according to grid operator Enedis, which supplies 95 percent of the grid, almost 600,000 homes were without electricity, the highest number of properties affected by any storm since 1999.

There were many injuries and some fatalities reported. The driver of a truck was killed when a falling tree crushed his vehicle. A similar fate befell a motorist in the southwest of the country.

The strong winds which went on to hit Corsica have now eased, but the remnants of the storm are expected to bring wet and windy weather across parts of Italy and the Balkans in the next 48 hours.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies