Storm Ciaran kills six, lashes Europe with strong winds and rain

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People walk past a destroyed warehouse in Porspoder, western France, on 2 November, 2023, as Storm Ciaran hit the region. Photo: AFP

Storm Ciaran smashed into western Europe on Thursday, killing six people and forcing schools, airports and train services to shut down.

A truck driver was killed when a tree fell on him in France while a second death was reported in Le Havre, according to authorities.

Falling trees also caused the death of a woman in the Spanish capital Madrid and another in the south of the Netherlands, local emergency services and police said.

Two people died in the Belgian town of Ghent – a five year old and a 64-year-old German woman visiting the country – the prosecutor’s office said. Both deaths were caused by falling branches.

In France, 1.2 million households were left without electricity.

Authorities in Finistere, Brittany, urged people to stay at home and avoid winds which were hitting 207 kph (129 mph), leading to reports of 20-metre (66-foot) waves off the coast.

Storm Ciaran, which follows on the heels of Storm Babet two weeks ago, was driven by a powerful jet stream that swept in from the Atlantic, unleashing heavy rain and furious winds that have already caused heavy flooding in Northern Ireland and parts of Britain.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told reporters that in addition to the death of truck driver, 15 people, including seven firefighters, had been injured. One person was seriously injured in the northern French town of Roubaix, he said.

About 1,300 people had to be relocated to camp sites or shelters, and several houses were evacuated in the Finistere city of Brest after a crane fell, Darmanin said earlier on social media.

Still, the storm in France showed some signs of abating with the Meteo France weather service reducing its alert for strong winds in Mache, Finistere and Cotes d’Armor from red to orange.

In Britain, the Channel Islands were among the worst hit areas, with the BBC reporting that windows had been blown in and one roof ripped off a house on Jersey, forcing families to move into nearby hotels.

Dutch Airline KLM scrapped hundreds of flights to and from Amsterdam, while international trains from the Dutch capital to Paris were also cancelled, and shipping lanes in the southwest of the country were closed. Airport operator AENA said 42 flights in Spain were cancelled.

Spain’s state-run weather agency AEMET also issued red warnings on Thursday for the northern regions of Galicia and Cantabria, where waves of as high as 9 metres were expected.

La Pinilla, a ski resort north of Madrid, and Estaca de Bares in Galicia registered wind velocities of more than 150 kph, AEMET said.

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