Storm batters southern Europe

A major storm system has swept through Spain, Portugal, and France over the weekend, killing more than 50 people, and leaving nearly a million without power.

Xynthia animation windstorm

The storm system, named Xynthia, has moved from Portugal north through Spain and coastal France, and is expected to reach northern Europe, including Denmark, by Sunday evening.

According to French prime minister Francois Fillon, at least 45 people have been killed in France alone, with around 60 injured. Additionally, three are dead in Spain, and one dead in each of Portugal, Belgium, and Germany.

According to the French utility EDF, nearly a million homes in France are without power, largely around Brittany and central France, and several towns on the French coast have been flooded.

The storm produced winds upward of 100 mph and waves up to 26 feet high. Effects of the storm reached inland to Paris, where nearly 100 flights were canceled and a terminal of Charles de Gaulle Airport was severely damaged. Rail transport was also affected, with tracks flooded in both Spain and France.

In the United Kingdom, flood warnings have been issued for most of Britain, and warnings for severe flooding that was possibly life-threatening were issued for parts of Cambridgeshire. In London, barriers on the Thames River were raised in order to reduce the potential for flooding. The storm was expected to affect southern regions of the country as it moved northeast towards Scandinavia.

In a statement, French president Nicolas Sarkozy expressed his condolences to those affected, and sent France’s interior minister to the areas most affected to co-ordinate a response. According to Prime Minister Fillon, the storms were a “national catastrophe.”

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