Subj: Europe Battered by Fierce Storms, 54 dead
Date: 12/27/99 6:05:55 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: (New Millennium)
To: (Newmill)

Europe Battered by Fierce Storms, 54 dead

Associated Press
Dec. 27, 1999; 8:49 a.m. EST

PARIS –– Fierce storms carved a trail of destruction through Europe over
the weekend, disrupting travel by road, rail and air and stranding tens
of thousands of holiday travelers. The storms left at least 54 people
dead, officials said today.

France bore the brunt of the wind and rain, which roared in from the
Atlantic before dawn Sunday. Gusts of 105 mph ripped up trees, tore off
roofs and knocked over cranes.

The death toll in France stood at 30, French Interior Ministry officials
said today. Many victims were crushed by falling trees or debris.

Although conditions in Paris were calm this morning, another storm was
coming in from the Atlantic and was expected to strike France later

On Sunday, Paris was buffeted by the strongest winds to hit the capital
in 50 years. Many streets were littered with broken shutters, branches
and pieces of twisted metal. Uprooted trees lay on the banks of the
Seine River. Newspaper kiosks were knocked down.

In neighboring Switzerland, at least 11 people were killed and several
injured, mostly by falling trees. Two of the victims were killed at a
southern ski resort when a tree crashed into a ski lift cable and sent
their gondola crashing to the ground, police said.

Thousands of homes, mostly in the mountainous Bernese Oberland region,
were still without electricity today after fallen trees caused
widespread damage to power lines.

Eleven people were killed in car accidents or by falling trees in
southern Germany, where winds reached 124 mph.

Two workers were killed today in the town of Mieres in northern Spain
when a gust of wind knocked down a 15-foot-high wall under construction
at a truck stop, news reports said. Winds up to 75 mph have lashed the
region for the past two days.

In Austria, winds gusting as high as 136 mph were reported in the
Salzkammergut region. Some 2,000 people were evacuated from a complex of
movie theaters in St. Poelten, west of Vienna, as high winds threatened
to damage the roof.

French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin sent
condolences to the families of the victims and praised rescue workers
for their efforts.

"A phenomenon on this scale only happens once or twice during a
century," a statement from Jospin's office said.

About 1.5 million homes in France were without electricity today,
according to French news reports.

Firefighters worked late into the night repairing damaged traffic
signals that were either bent or broken. French tourist attractions,
including the Tuileries gardens, the Versailles royal palace and
Disneyland Paris, closed due to the weather. Disneyland later reopened.