Germany begins mass clean-up after violent storm

BERLIN: A mass clean-up was under way across Germany on Friday after a violent storm with hurricane-force winds killed seven people, caused chaos at airports and resulted in parts of the public transport system being shut down.
The storm, referred to as Xavier, with wind gusts at times hitting 180 kilometres an hour, swept across northern Germany on Thursday.
It uprooted trees, knocked over cranes and hit large urban areas just as the evening rush hour was taking place.
About 10,000 people remained without power on Friday in the north-eastern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern after the storm battered the region, with energy companies saying they were using all available resources to restore power.
At the height of the storm, about 35,000 people were without power.
Public transport services were also slowly returning to normal in the wake of the storm, which left large numbers of rail passengers stranded in train carriages.
About 470 train passengers were forced to spend the night at a train station in western Germany as a result of the storm with the nation’s rail company cancelling multiple train services.
At the same time, 370 people became stranded when two long-distance trains had to take shelter at the station in the western German town of Minden.
About another 100 were trapped when their regional trains ceased operations.
Officials said the people were stuck for about eight hours and that staff at the station made sure they were cared for.
All the people could resume their travels around 5 am (0300 GMT). German train operators said they were now operating limited services between the key cities of Berlin, Hamburg, Hanover and Kiel as crews tried to clear trees and make repairs after the storm.
Authorities also reported that local public transportation was returning to normal in Hamburg.
However, there were still disruptions in Berlin.
A spokesman for the railways suggested that commuters avoid regional trains. — dpa