Deadly storm blasts across Europe, killing three

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Media captionWinter storm Eleanor has swept into most of western Europe

Winter storms have been sweeping across western Europe, causing three deaths and widespread disruption.

Tens of thousands of people have been affected by power cuts, and air travel has been disrupted.

Two people drowned on Spain's northern Basque coast after being swept away by a huge wave and a skier was killed by a falling tree in the French Alps.

The region is on avalanche alert, with many ski resorts - busy for the school holidays - closed for a second day.

Meanwhile in the French island of Corsica strong winds are fanning two wildfires, described by local officials as "exceptional in the middle of winter", according to AFP.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Huge waves could be seen on beaches of the French port of Marseille

Winds of up to 147km/h (91mph) were recorded in France. Fifteen people were injured in incidents across the country, four seriously.

In Paris, the Eiffel Tower was closed because of the strong winds. Parks were also closed because of worries over falling tree branches.

In the Netherlands, the authorities shut all five of the country's major sea barriers for the first time on Wednesday.

Gusts of more than 110km/h were recorded at Amsterdam airport where hundreds of flights were cancelled.

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In Switzerland, strong winds blew a train carriage off its tracks, injuring eight people. Some 14,000 homes in the country were left without power and record wind gusts of 195km/h were recorded near the city of Lucerne.

The high winds left several people stranded in a ski lift in St Gallen canton, overturned a light airplane in Stans and snapped the 13m (42ft) high Christmas tree in the capital Bern, Reuters reported.

The storm has also swept over parts of Germany and Austria, where about 20 skiers had to be rescued from cable car in Kitzb├╝hel after a gust dislodged an empty car from its mooring, local media said.

Belgium was put on "orange" alert, the third of four warning levels, with officials urging people to be cautious when going out because of falling tree branches and other flying objects.

In the UK thousands of homes were without power and travel was disrupted after the storm hit. The Met Office recorded gusts reaching 100 mph (161km/h).

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Ski resorts in the French Alps have been badly affected by the storm
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The train carriage was toppled near the Swiss town of Lenk
Image copyright AFP
Image caption A roof lies in pieces in a street in Stuttgart, south-western Germany, after the storm

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