3 killed in Netherlands, 1 in Belgium by powerful storm

Thursday, January 18, 2018


A lorry and a damaged car following the strong winds in Kampen, The Netherlands, on Jan 18. PHOTO: EPA-EFE


AMSTERDAM (REUTERS, AFP) – Three people were killed in the Netherlands on Thursday (Jan 18) as powerful winds toppled trees, blew trucks off the road and forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport briefly suspended all air traffic on Thursday as gusts of up to 140kmh were recorded along the coast.

At least 260 flights were scrapped and falling roof tiles led to the closure of airport terminals. Nationwide train services and many tram and bus services were halted after the highest weather alert was issued.

Police said three people were killed by falling trees or debris in separate incidents.

In Rotterdam, shipping containers were toppled and entire roofs ripped off homes, local TV showed.

Schiphol later said some flights would resume as the storm moved inland, but that there would be severe delays.

In Germany, railway operator Deutsche Bahn said it had suspended all services in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the country’s most populous, leaving hundreds of thousands of travellers and commuters stranded.

“Since this affects many long-distance connections, there are effects on the entire rail services, also internationally,” Deutsche Bahn said.

In Munich, eight domestic flights by Lufthansa were cancelled, the airport operator said.

Meanwhile, a motorist was killed after a tree crushed her car in Belgium on Thursday, the first death from the strong winds blowing through countries bordering the North Sea, local media said.

The fatal accident occurred at around 10.30am on a forest road in Grez-Doiceau, a suburban village about 35km south of Brussels, according to Belgian media.

Benelux countries faced falling trees, flying roof tiles and collapsed electric cables, with firefighters called out to hundreds of emergencies since late on Wednesday, when gusts of wind began to exceed 100kmh.

The suburban region of Walloon Brabant, where the death took place, had alone logged about 60 emergency calls overnight, according to the local daily L’Avenir.

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