Powerful windstorm in Europe kills at least 24

Monday, October 28, 2002

LONDON -- A powerful windstorm lashed Britain and northwestern Europe on Sunday, killing at least 24 people -- many crushed by falling trees. Travel was disrupted and buildings damaged.

Falling trees killed six people in Britain, where gusts surpassed 95 mph. Six people also died in the Netherlands, including two who were blown into the North Sea and believed drowned.

Five died in Germany, four in northern France, two in Belgium and one in Switzerland.

The gales uprooted trees, ripped off roofs and played havoc with rail, air, sea and road travel.

Britain's Meteorological Office said severe gales reaching 80 mph lashed England and Wales. A 96.6 mph gust was recorded at Mumbles in south Wales.

Wind was nearly as bad on the continent, with gusts up to 90 mph reported in the Netherlands and northern France.

British emergency officials said three of the dead were children killed by falling trees, including a 14-year-old girl crushed in a car near Market Drayton in central England. Her mother and sister were injured.

Thousands of people across England and Wales were without power, and police said many buildings sustained structural damage.

In the Netherlands, the storm disrupted train and highway traffic and caused major delays at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

The dead included a man hit by a falling tree while walking his dog in the eastern town of Enschede and a 77-year-old man who lost his footing and fell into a fence in the town of Hilversum.

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