Massive power outage as storm batters French northwest

16th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

A storm battering northwestern France on Friday left 400,000 households without power, disrupted rail traffic and grounded a ship that spilled oil into the sea off the coast of Brittany.

Interior Minister Claude Gueant told France Info radio that "a certain number" of people living in low-lying areas in Brittany had been evacuated because of storm Joachim.

The storm has been battering the area since Thursday night with gusts of wind of up to 133 kilometres (83 miles) per hour and waves up to seven metres (23 feet) high and disrputed rail and air traffic.

The storm caused a cargo ship, the TK Bremen flying the Maltese flag, to run aground and spill oil into the sea off Brittany early on Friday, officials said.

An oil slick was reported to be floating toward the coast between the city of Lorient and the Quiberon peninsula, according to the Brest maritime authorities.

Regional authorities were preparing to deploy equipment to try and contain the slick and to empty the ship of its 180 tons of fuel and 40 tons of diesel, it said.

All 19 members of the ship's crew were evacuated by helicopter, it said.

The storm was moving its way inland on Friday, with Swiss authorities reporting causing a train to derail in Switzerland, lightly injuring three people.

"Friday morning a train derailed in the forest near Tramelan," in the northwest of the mountainous country, police said in a statement


© 2011 AFP

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