27 - 28 February,Europe
After the devastating winterstorm "Xynthia" the situation is slowly normalising. Over the last weekend the storm has battered Spain, Germany and France, causing dozens of casualities and leaving more than one million people without electricity. All cross Europe, the storm has claimed at least 63 deaths.
In Germany, seven people were killed by the hurricane. The German Meteorological Centre had warned people to stay away from wooded areas as long as the storm continued and urged residents to not to drive through forests at any account. “Whoever can, should stay at home”, meteorologist Peter Hartmann recommended. While this storm is not comparable to Kyrill (a low pressure storm that caused widespread damage in Europe in 2007), Xynthia has still caused travel chaos across south-western Germany. Frankfurt’s central train station, one of Germany’s largest transportation hubs, had been closed down after wind gusts had reached speeds of 130km per hour.
In Spain the storm has claimed at least three lives. Houses have been damaged, cars destroyed and roads have collapsed. In Bilbao, Spain, fires erupted overnight, leaving some homes smoldering in the daylight.
France, where at least 51 people died and with nine persons still missing, may be the country the hardest hit within Europe. President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke of a "national catastrophe" and called out the state of emergency for the Atlantic coast, the region most heavily hit in France. Sarkozy has furthermore announced a financial relief of three million euros. Regional officials clamoured for France to quickly reinforce its aging sea walls, given the fact that half the French death toll is attributed to the breach of the sea wall off the coastal town of L'Aiguillon-sur-Mer.
The EU Commission in Brussels is considering assistance to the most affected countries. EU Parliament President Jerzy Buzek has expressed his sympathy for and solidarity with the victims of winterstrom Xynthia.