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Thousands wake up without power as storms wreak havoc in France, UK

Photo: AFP

Thousands of people on both sides of the Channel woke up to flooding and power cuts on Christmas morning after torrential rainfall and hurricane-force winds wreaked havoc. The storm has claimed at least six lives in the run-up to Christmas.

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Severe flood and storm warnings have been issued as heavy downpours caused rivers to flood, disrupted road traffic, and forced the cancellation of rail, flight and cross-channel ferry services.

The extreme weather conditions forced a temporary shut-down of Nice airport on the French Riviera, while power cuts also disrupted much of the scheduled flights to and from London’s Gatwick airport.

As the storm traveled further southeast overnight, snowfalls of up to 50 centimetres were recorded in the high altitudes of the southern Alpes-Maritime region.

Power provider ERDF said the number of households without electricity in France had climbed from 84,000 to 120,000 from Tuesday, while tens of thousands of homes were reported to be without power in southern England.

But ERDF spokesman Philippe Gluck told BFM-TV that the storm is expected to abate later on Wednesday.

“We’re pretty certain we’ll be able to reestablish [power] to 90 percent of the 120,000 households deprived of electricity tonight since the storm is calming down.”

In France, a teenager was killed and another seriously injured on Monday when a wall in a building site collapsed in Normandy.

In Britain, the storm has claimed at least five lives, including a man who tried to rescue his dog from a river.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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