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More storms in Europe cause havoc

January 4, 1998
Web posted at: 3:41 p.m. EST (2041 GMT)

(CNN) -- Renewed gale force winds lashed parts of France and Britain on Sunday, following heavy storms that already cost the lives of several people.

Winds of up to 160 kilometers per hours wreaked havoc in southern England and Wales Sunday, causing power outages, uprooting trees and damaging homes.

Electricity to more than 60,000 households was cut off, authorities said.

Walkers and motorists were advised to stay away from the danger zone along the shores pounded by huge waves. Gale force 11 winds also battered the coasts of Kent and Hampshire.

The storm, accompanied by heavy rainfall, uprooted trees and lifted roofs off houses, especially in Wales and Devon. Rivers swelled by the rainfall burst their banks and swept away parked cars.

Rescue teams were trying to save the crew of a Spanish fishing vessel in turbulent seas off southern England. One rescue helicopter dropped two life rafts but bad weather forced it to return to base, rescue workers said.

Coast guards in the port of Falmouth said the trawler Sonia Naci had lost power and its engine room was flooding.

In France, authorities banned motorists and pedestrians from some coastal areas on Sunday as storms battered the western shore and cut off islands.

Among areas worst hit was the Quiberon peninsula in southern Brittany where waves up to 10 meters (30 feet) high and winds up to 180 kph (110 mph) were expected, French television reported.

At least 600 tourists were stranded on Ushant and Molene islands, where food supplies were said to be running low in hotels.

It was the third day running that severe storms had lashed western France. Authorities said three rescue workers were injured late on Saturday when a tree fell on their field headquarters tent. Three people were killed in road accidents caused by the weather on Friday.

Belgium was also bracing itself for a second powerful storm Sunday and emergency services in coastal areas were on alert in light of forecasts warning of winds of up to 130 kph (80 mph). Storms on Saturday uprooted trees, damaged houses and disrupted power lines.

German police reported one storm-related death on Saturday, when a 16-year-old youth died near Stuttgart after his motorcycle crashed into a tree that had been felled across the street by the storm.

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