One dead, 15 injured in France as storms batter Western Europe

Paris: One person was killed and 15 were reported injured in France on Wednesday as the country took the brunt of storms that swept in from the Atlantic earlier, also hitting Ireland, Britain,Germany and the Netherlands.
The fatality was caused by a falling tree in the ski resort of Morillon in the French Alps, civil defence spokesman Michael Bernier said. Four of the 15 injured people were seriously hurt.
In Germany, winds gusts of up to 120 kilometres an hour hit areas of the south-west, disrupting shipping and motor vehicle traffic while workers attempted to clear fallen trees from blocked rail lines across the region.
There were no reports of injuries, German officials said. The storms also resulted in at least two airports on the German-French border being forced to shut down during the storm, while zoos and animal parks in southern Germany were closed.
French railway company SNCF said that regional trains were not working in the Normandy and Alsace regions. Long-distance trains were running normally.
French maritime authorities reported that a yachtsman had been rescued in a dangerous helicopter operation in high seas and amid 7-metre waves off the Normandy coast on Tuesday night. Shipping was warned of the danger posed by his abandoned sailing yacht, which could not be located.
In France and Ireland, electricity workers scrambled to restore power to hundreds of thousands of households.
Some 225,000 French households were left without power, mainly in the east of the country, as of 12:30 pm (1130 GMT), electricity network company Enedis said.
Power had meanwhile been restored to more than 70,000 households in the north and the Paris region after the passage of the storm.
Irish state electricity company ESB said that by noon Wednesday, electricity had been restored to 134,000 customers, but 16,000 homes, farms and businesses remained without power. Another 20,000 properties had lost power in Northern Ireland, the Press Association reported, while 2,500 homes and businesses were cut off from the grid in parts of England.
In Switzerland, the high winds resulted in officials calling off ski jumping training. About 200 planes had to be cancelled and trains were moving at reduced speeds in the Netherlands as the low-lying country prepared for the first major storm of the year. Dutch authorities and train service personnel reported that train service has been suspended in coastal areas. — dpa