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Britain, Ireland hit as Storm Ciara whips over northwest Europe

AFP  |  London 

Britain and Ireland were lashed by howling winds and inundated with driving rain on Sunday as Storm Ciara left homes without power, wiped out sports events and disrupted travel around northern Europe.

The bad also hit France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany throughout Sunday, causing scores of flights to be cancelled.

In Britain, more than 30,000 homes were left without power, largely in eastern England.

The highest wind speed recorded was 150 kilometres) pe hour at Aberdaron, on the tip of northwest Wales's Llyn peninsula.

At Wet Sleddale Reservoir in northwest England's Lake District national park, more than 150 millimetres of rain fell in a 24-hour period.

Rail companies urged passengers not to travel and operated reduced timetables and speed restrictions.

In Perth, central Scotland, three people were injured after part of a pub roof collapsed Saturday.

Sports events were also hit.

Sunday's English Premier League fixture between champions Manchester City and strugglers West Ham was called off due to "extreme and escalating conditions", City said in a statement.

The entire Women's Super League football programme was also called off, including derbies between Arsenal and Tottenham, and Everton and Liverpool. The north London clash was a sell-out, while the latter had been due to attract a 20,000-plus crowd to Goodison Park, Everton's home in Liverpool.

The Women's Six Nations rugby tournament was another casualty of the extreme Sunday's Scotland-England clash due to take place in Glasgow was postponed until Monday afternoon.

In London, organisers cancelled a 10-kilometre race in which 25,000 runners were due to take part, while major city parks closed. In rugby league, both Super League fixtures were postponed.

Queen Elizabeth II, staying at her Sandringham country residence in eastern England, did not go to church due to the high winds.

Several airports in Germany had to cancel flights as the storm swept in from the north. Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich, Cologne and Hanover were among those affected, while at Dusseldorf, 111 flights were scrapped on Sunday.

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn said it had halted long-distance train services in many parts of the northwest and would extend the transport freeze to the rest of the country.

The Bundesliga football match between Moenchengladbach and Cologne was postponed.

About 120 flights to and from Amsterdam Schiphol, the third-busiest airport in Europe, were cancelled, largely affecting KLM, British Airways, easyJet and Lufthansa services.

The Dutch Football Association announced that Sunday's four top-flight matches had been postponed, while the Belgian top division also called off its matches.

Some 60 flights departing or arriving at Brussels Airport have been cancelled as a precaution, according to an airport spokesman, who said further delays were possible.

In Ireland, around 14,000 homes and businesses were without power, national broadcaster RTE said, as the republic began counting ballots in its general election.

Ireland's Met Eireann meteorological service said winds would occasionally reach storm force 10 on western and northern coastal waters.

"Storm Ciara will continue to produce very strong west to southwest winds over Ireland with mean speeds of 50-65 kph and gusts generally of between 90 and 110 kph, higher in Atlantic coastal areas," it said. "A combination of spring tides and high seas will result in a significant risk of coastal flooding."

Saturday's opening ceremony of Galway's year as European Capital of Culture, was scrapped due to the bad weather buffeting Ireland's west coast.

Earlier French forecaster Marion Pirat told AFP that high winds were expected in the north and northwest of the country, potentially strengthening to 120 kph overnight Sunday. In the Vosges, winds could hit speeds of 140 kph.

The storms did not stop Sunday's Six Nations rugby clash between France and visitors Italy at the Stade de France in Paris.

For British Airways however, there was at least one upside to Storm Ciara -- the company recorded its fastest-ever flight between New York and London, thanks to tailwinds from the storm.

According to flights-tracking website Flightradar24, it completed the transatlantic crossing in a mere 4 hours 56 minutes, the fastest sub-sonic crossing.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, February 10 2020. 02:24 IST