Scottish leader praises storm response
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond on Friday praised the response of emergency crews to a "once in a generation" storm that downed trees, grounded flights and cut power to thousands of homes.
Britain's first major storm this winter slammed into the west of Scotland on Thursday packing winds of up to 165 miles (266 kilometres) per hour, causing chaos to transport and leaving more than 55,000 people without electricity.
The strongest gales were recorded at the Cairngorms range in the Scottish Highlands, while the main cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh were hit by wind speeds of around 70 mph (113 kph).
"I've been kept in touch ... and I've seen the extraordinary pictures of the exceptionally high winds," Salmond told AFP during a visit to Hong Kong.
"Scotland is a windy country but even for Scotland that was a once-in-a-generation experience."
Thousands of schools around Glasgow and the west of Scotland were closed, while every major bridge was shut, flights from the main airports were disrupted and train services cut.
"There have been thankfully no fatalities reported and that is a tribute to the work that was done in advance," Salmond said.
"There are still about 50,000 people without power but there's 15,000 people working on that."
He said Scotland's main power companies expected power to be restored this weekend.
"Scotland's a very resilient country and we can take whatever Mother Nature throws at us," Salmond said.
The first minister is visiting the southern Chinese city of Hong Kong after a trip to Beijing where he met senior government leaders for talks focused on trade.
© 2011 AFP