Cyprus Mail

Storms batter Britain and southern France

Thousands of Britons woke up to flooding and power cuts on Christmas morning after torrential rainfall and hurricane-force winds battered the country.

Three severe flood warnings are in place along with over 350 secondary warnings and alerts, largely across southern and central England, Britain’s environment agency said on Wednesday.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly in southern England, had no electricity late on Christmas Eve and engineers were working on Christmas Day to restore power.

Winds of up to 90 mph (145kph) hit both Britain and France on Dec. 23 and Christmas Eve, with heavy downpours causing cancellations of rail, flight and ferry services.

Five people – including a man who tried to rescue his dog from a river – have died in Britain over the last three days due to the high winds and heavy rainfall.

Police in Dorset, southwest England, evacuated over 100 residents in the early hours of Wednesday in two separate locations following fears of flooding from a nearby river.

At London’s second airport Gatwick, power cuts – which caused angry scenes between passengers and staff on Tuesday – continued as stranded travellers tried to catch flights on Christmas Day.

“Due to adverse weather in the last 48 hours there are still power outages in parts of our North Terminal, these are causing delays to departing flights,” said a message on the airport’s website.

Powerful winds and torrential rain also swept southern France on Wednesday, grounding flights and cutting off power to tens of thousands of homes.

About 120,000 homes across the country were without electricity on Christmas Day due to ruptured power lines and widespread flooding in the northwestern Brittany region, said France’s ERDF power distributor.

The international airport at Nice was shut, with all incoming and outgoing flights cancelled until at least 1200 GMT due to poor visibility on the runway, a spokesman said.

Hurricane-force winds lashed France and Britain on Tuesday, causing five deaths in Britain and one in France. Heavy downpours led to cancellations of rail, flight and ferry services.

The storm had subsided in the north of France on Wednesday but continued to batter southeastern France and the Mediterranean coastline, though winds were less powerful.

Meteo France, the national weather office, maintained an “Orange” alert level for weather-related danger – its second-highest – in parts of Brittany and southeastern France but declared other regions mostly calm.

It warned of powerful gusts in the Pyrenees mountain range and the possibility of high waves along the Mediterranean coast.

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