Storm Kills 8, Knots Traffic in Western Europe

Article excerpt

LONDON -- A powerful storm barreled across western Europe yesterday, ravaging ancient oaks, grounding flights, cutting power to more than 100,000 homes and snarling traffic. At least eight people have been killed.

The Eurostar train service, linking London with Paris and Brussels, was out of commission, and France's famous high-speed trains limped along at half-speed, as winds gusting up to 90 mph tossed trees onto highways and rail lines.

Scores of flights were canceled at London's Heathrow airport -- the world's busiest for international travel -- and also at Gatwick outside London, Amsterdam's Schipol Airport and Paris' Charles de Gaulle. British Airways alone had canceled 66 flights out of Heathrow and 22 from Gatwick by midday.

One of London's leading tourist attractions, the Ferris wheel-like London Eye on the banks of the Thames, also was shut down.

On both sides of the English Channel, history took a beating from the bad weather. At Wolverhampton in central England, the storm wrecked an oak tree that was an offshoot of one used by Charles II to hide in after a battle debacle in 1651. In central Paris, a section of roof on the landmark 19th-century Madeleine church was in danger of collapsing, Europe 1 radio reported.

In the very heart of London, the winds pulled down three majestic trees along The Mall, the broad avenue leading to Buckingham Palace where so many royal processions are held. …