Nine dead as Storm Eunice batters Europe

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Storm Eunice killed at least nine people in Europe on Friday, pummelling Britain with record-breaking winds and forcing millions to take shelter as it disrupted flights, trains and ferries across Western Europe.

London was eerily empty after the British capital was placed under its first ever “red” weather warning, meaning there was “danger to life”. By nightfall, police there said a woman in her 30s had died after a tree fell on a car she was a passenger in.

Meanwhile a man in his 50s was also killed in northwest England after debris struck the windscreen of a vehicle he was travelling in, according to Merseyside Police.

Beyond Britain, falling trees killed three people in the Netherlands and a man in his 60s in southeast Ireland, while a Canadian man aged 79 died in Belgium, according to officials in each country.

A motorist was killed when their car crashed into a tree that had fallen across a road near Adorp in the Netherlands’ northern province of Groningen.

And in Germany, a motorist died after his car was hit by a tree near the town of Altenberge.

Dozens of homes were evacuated in The Hague amid fears a church steeple could collapse. Footage showed the steeple wobbling and a large piece of debris falling on a car.

As well as in London, the highest weather alert level was declared across southern England, South Wales and the Netherlands, with many schools closed and rail travel paralysed, as towering waves breached sea walls along the coasts.

Meanwhile Eunice’s winds knocked out power to more than 140,000 homes in England, mostly in the southwest, and 80,000 properties in Ireland, utility companies said.

Around London, three people were taken to hospital after suffering injuries in the storm, and a large section of the roof on the Millennium Dome was shredded by the gales.

One wind gust of 122 miles (196 kilometres) per hour was measured on the Isle of Wight off southern England, “provisionally the highest gust ever recorded in England”, the Met Office said.

At the Tan Hill Inn, Britain’s highest pub in Yorkshire, staff were busy preparing even if the winds remained merely blustery in the region of northern England.

“But with the snow coming in now, the wind’s increasing, we’re battening down the hatches, getting ready for a bad day and worse night,” pub maintenance worker Angus Leslie told AFP.