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WEATHER

Storm continues to batter Spain, France as death toll rises to eight

The number of fatalities from a storm that battered Spain, Portugal and France rose to eight on Saturday as the region braced for more violent winds and heavy rain.

Storm continues to batter Spain, France as death toll rises to eight
Waves hit the jetty of the port of A Guarda, northwestern Spain, during storm Fabien on December 21st. Photo: AFP

A 32-year-old South Korean woman died Saturday, a day after being struck on the head by falling debris from a building in central Madrid, the Madrid region's interior minister said.

The building had passed an inspection in 2015 “but weather like this, with heavy rain and wind, causes these fateful cases”, Enrique Lopez told reporters.

A man died Saturday after his car was swept away by a swollen river near the town of Huescar in the southern province of Granada, the regional government of Andalusia said in a statement.

Emergency services in Andalusia said a 68-year-old Dutch man who went missing while windsurfing in rough weather in Huelva province Friday had drowned.

Those three deaths bring to eight to the number of fatalities from the storm that has battered Spain, Portugal and southern France overnight Thursday to Friday.

Storm Elsa flooded rivers, brought down power lines and disrupted rail and air travel across the region.

Six of the deaths have been in Spain and two in Portugal, where the extreme weather interrupted train services Saturday between the capital Lisbon and the second city Porto due to flooding on the rail tracks.

As a weakened Storm Elsa moved over Britain, the authorities in France, Portugal and Spain all warned of a fresh threat.

Storm Fabien has already brought winds of 170 kilometres per hour in Galicia in northwestern Spain, forcing the cancellation of 14 flights according to Spanish airport operator Aena.

Another 13 flights were diverted from airports in Galicia to other parts of Spain or Portugal, it added.

Some 8,000 households in Galicia were without power due to damage caused to power lines by the wind, local officials said.

Spain's national weather office has put the entire coast of Galicia and the neighbouring region of Asturias on red alert on Saturday — the highest on its four-alert scale — due to strong winds and high waves.

Eight Madrid city parks remained shut Saturday because of the strong winds.

Parks and cemeteries were also closed in Bordeaux in southwestern France onSaturday while the Arlette Gruss circus, which had set up in a big tent in the city's main square, cancelled three performances.

France's weather office placed 15 regions in the southwest of the country on orange alert Saturday, as the storm battered its Atlantic coast.

The winds were as high as 148 km per hour at Socoa, in the southwest near the border with Spain. Even on the northwest coast of Brittany, winds reached up to 120 km per hour.

The office said winds in the southwest would likely weaken through Sunday, but the region would still be buffeted by gusts of up to 90 km per hour.   

France's SNCF rail network cancelled services between Bordeaux, Toulouse and Hendaye services in the southwest because of the likelihood of winds blowing trees down on to the line.

Officials on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica have closed all the island's airports Sunday because of the approaching storm. Ferry services to the mainline have also been suspended.

And officials on the island closed the roads into Ajaccio to try to prevent anyone getting caught in floodwaters.

Nearly 10,000 homes are still without power in the southeast Rhone-Alpes region after storms overnight Thursday to Friday.

READ ALSO: Strong winds close ski slopes in France and leave tens of thousands without power

 

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WEATHER

Spain urges holidaymakers to head home early due to snow and strong wind warnings

Nine Spanish regions were put on alert on Tuesday for heavy snow, rain and strong winds, with the country's traffic authorities calling for people taking holidays this long weekend to head home early to avoid the worst of the bad weather.

Spain urges holidaymakers to head home early due to snow and strong wind warnings
Vehicles stuck in traffic due to a heavy snowfall near Burgos, northern Spain, in March 2021. Photo: Cesar Manso/AFP

Aragón, Castilla y León, Catalonia, Navarra and the Basque Country will be on orange alert from Tuesday for snow storms, while Asturias, Cantabria, La Rioja and La Comunidad Valenciana are on the less-severe yellow alert, Spain’s State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) announced.

A slight increase in temperatures will increase the risk of avalanches in the Pyrenees and the central Cantabrian mountain range.

Some roads in the north of the country are already being affected by snow and are being restricted to some traffic such as trucks and heavy vehicles.

Spain’s traffic authority (DGT) called on residents in the northern half of the country to return early from the puente (long weekend) marked by the public holidays of December 6 and 8, ahead of heavy snow forecast for Wednesday.

Of the 108 main roads affected by the heavy snow in Spain, almost half of them are in the northeastern region Aragón.

Aragón, Catalonia and Navarra are at risk of avalanches, according to data from Aemet, while a storm warning has been issued for the coastal areas of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Catalonia and the Basque country.

Heavy rainfall is expected in Galicia, extending to Cantabria and the western Pyrenees.

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