Severe storms batter N Europe, 23 dead
Hurricane force winds battered parts of Europe, killing at least 23 people and triggering a dramatic air-sea rescue from a sinking cargo ship in the English Channel.
The storms on Thursday brought torrential rains and winds gusting at close to 170 kilometers per hour to areas of southern Britain, northern France, the Netherlands, Germany and the Czech Republic.
Falling trees and pylons claimed the lives of seven motorists, including the managing director of central England's Birmingham airport, killed when a branch fell on his car as he was driving to work.
In all, 10 people were killed in storm-related accidents in England, four in Germany, four in the Netherlands, three in the Czech Republic and two in France. Many of the deaths were due to traffic accidents and falling debris.
Meteorologists at London's Met Office said the winds reached "severe gale force" as they crossed Britain and were the highest recorded since January, 1990.
But they warned that the system would intensify as it headed east across the continent. Winds of almost 170 kph were recorded later on Thursday in Germany.
"Denmark, Netherlands and Germany were expected to be more severely affected by the storm as it tracked across them through this evening," the office said on its website.
In Munich, an 18-month-old baby was crushed to death by a door that was torn off its hinges, while a 73-year-old man was killed after a barn door fell on him in Bavaria.