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High winds batter central and southern France, leaving 140,000 without power

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By Alastair Jamieson  & AFP
High winds battered France
High winds battered France   -   Copyright  file/AFP

140,000 homes and businesses were without power in France on Friday after strong winds gusting up to 120km/h battered the centre and south of the country.

The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region was most affected by the power outages, according to energy provider Enedis.

A southerly wind first hit the Pyrenees before sweeping the departments of the Massif Central, the Rhone valley and Burgundy, gusts blowing up to 120 km/h around Saint-Étienne and in the Gier valley in direction of Lyon.

Enedis reports 28,000 households affected throughout Auvergne, including 18,500 in Puy-de-Dôme, as well as 23,000 in the Loire, 21,000 in the Rhône and 11,000 in Ardèche in particular.

In the Loire, schools were closed after the fall of trees and roof tiles. The roof of petrol pumps collapsed at a service station in Saint-Romain-en-Gier and 17 people were evacuated from a building in Saint-Étienne, the roof having partly flown away.

Train traffic was also stopped overnight between Thursday and Friday between Saint-Etienne and Lyon, after falling trees on the tracks — blocking the country's busiest TER line.