Fatal storms lash France bringing floods, travel disruptions
A powerful storm with hurricane-force winds battered France over the weekend, disrupting flights and rail service and leaving hundreds of thousands of homes without power. At least 45 people were killed, the interior ministry said Sunday.
AFP - The number of people killed by a fierce storm that brought floods and high winds to western France has reached 45, the interior ministry said Sunday, bringing the European death toll to 50.
The ministry released its updated toll at 6.10pm (1710 GMT), increasing an earlier estimate by rescuers, who warned the final figure would be higher.
"This toll is evolving minute by minute and is likely to get worse as our reconnaissance takes us further inland, into houses and car parks," said Major Samuel Bernes, spokesman for the civil defence force.
The bulk of the casualties were in low-lying areas of France's western Atlantic coast, principally the Vendee and Charente-Maritime regions, where hurricane force winds drove huge waves into seafront communities.
Storm "Xynthia", which made landfall on Saturday in Spain and Portugal, killing four people, has now moved on to Germany and the Netherlands. One person has so far been killed by a falling tree in Germany's Black Forest.