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Christmas storm batters more countries in Europe

Christmas storm batters more countries in Europe
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Five people have died since Monday in the UK, as stormy weather wreaks havoc in Europe during the festive season.

Across the south of England, 150,000 homes are without electricity. Winds of 140 kilometres per hour are expected to hit Scotland and Northern Ireland. There are severe weather and flood warnings across the UK, making driving conditions particularly dangerous in some areas.

“Plan your journeys properly, tell somebody where you’re going and from time to time obviously report in on where you are and how you’re getting on and be really patient,” advised Frank Bird of the UK Highways Agency.

Winds reached 100 kilometres an hour in western parts of Belgium. Tram services in Brussels were disrupted after uprooted trees crashed through power cables.

Hurricane-force winds and torrential rain battered France – especially Brittany and Normandy in the north, where a teenager died after a wall
collapsed at a building site.

Some 240,000 homes are without power across the country.

Dominique Rousseau, manager of a ski resort at La Pierre Saint Martin in the south of France said dangerous weather conditions means the slopes are closed for now.

Christmas cheer is being replaced by chaos, as the storm works its way further south into Spain and Portugal – holiday destinations many in northern Europe have failed to reach because the weather put a stop to their travel plans.

A power cut at London’s Gatwick airport North Terminal caused flight cancellations earlier on Tuesday before all departing flights except British Airways were moved to the South Terminal.

The situation is no better for would-be travellers hoping to leave from Spain. Flights have been delayed and cancelled at airports in Bilbau, Asturias, Santander and Vigo.

Red alerts, the most serious, have been issued in two districts in Portugal. In fifteen other districts, the alert level is orange – the second highest.

Major electricity supplier EDP says it has 1,000 staff carrying out emergency work in north and central Portugal caused by damage from fallen trees.

Authorities have warned people to stay away from the coast until at least Thursday as waves may reach up to seven metres in height.