Violent storms kill one, cut power to 230,000 homes
France-weather,2ndlead, French storms kill one, cut power to 230,000 homes
French storms kill one, cut power to 230,000 homes
PARIS, Dec 8, 2006 (AFP) - Violent storms packing hurricane-force winds lashed France on Friday, leaving one person dead and several injured, cutting power to 230,000 homes and delaying international flights, authorities said.
The victim, a man in his fifties, was struck dead on a busy high street Paris's central 10th district, when the wind brought a billboard crashing down onto him, police said. Two other people were injured in the accident.
Paris City Hall told residents to stay inside if possible, and closed down all parks, cemeteries and ice rinks because of the risk of falling trees.
At Paris's main international airport Charles de Gaulle authorities reported 90-minute delays to all incoming and outgoing flights.
Fallen trees disrupted high-speed rail traffic between Paris and Nantes on the Atlantic coast, one of the worst hit areas, and a main bridge near Nantes was closed after three trucks were knocked over by the wind.
Off the west coast, a Dutch cargo ship listing heavily in the wind lost part of its cargo at sea and had to be escorted towards the nearby port of Brest.
Winds of more than 140 kilometres (85 miles) per hour were recorded along the west coast early Friday, where some 150,000 homes were left without power, as well as in the Massif Central mountain range.
Power was also cut to around 80,000 households in the central region around Orleans, the electricity provider EDF said.
EDF said it had deployed 1,000 staff to restore power connections.
Firefighters were called out to hundreds of accident scenes across France, caused by falling trees and flying roof tiles, and a young man was seriously injured in the southeastern Rhône region when his car was crushed by a tree.
The storm, described as "very serious" by the weather forecasting agency Méteo France, was expected to sweep rapidly east across the country, with calm returning Friday evening.
Subject: French news