Heavy storms swept through parts of northern Europe and elsewhere on Thursday, causing train traffic to be paralyzed and four people killed by falling trees.
The Netherlands was the biggest hit by the stormy winter wind – the second this month – swept from the North Sea to hit the country, also known as the “lowlands.”
Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, one of the busiest airports, canceled all its flights for a brief period while winds were blowing at 140 km per hour in some areas.
“All air traffic has been suspended until further notice,” the airport administration said in a tweet on Twitter. The flights gradually resumed after about two hours.
But the airport was also forced to close the entrances of two of the three departure halls after parts of its roof flew off.
“The firefighters came to help because the situation was not safe,” airport spokeswoman Gidi Scherzer told AFP.
As the national meteorological agency raised its warning to the red upper limit, a 62-year-old man was killed in the town of Ulst in the center of the Netherlands due to falling trees.
Dutch police said the man was killed when he got out of his truck to remove part of the tree blocking the road.
Another 62-year-old Dutchman was killed in the eastern Dutch city of Enxedia when a tree fell on his car, the Dutch news agency ANNA reported.
In neighboring Belgium, a woman was killed when her car hit a tree as it crossed a forest 35 kilometers south of Brussels.
In Germany, a 59-year-old man died in a traffic accident caused by the storm Frederic in the Emmerich-Altin region of Renania province, north of Westphalia.
The Dutch railway company ANS said that “because of the storm, all trains will stop until further notice,” with the exception of a local service in Khroningen (north) and Limburg (south).
Tallis, the high-speed train, suspended flights to the Netherlands and Germany until at least 1300 GMT.
A train to Thales, heading for the Netherlands from Brussels, was stopped in Antwerp and all passengers were asked to get off and wait at least two hours, according to an AFP correspondent.
Dutch railways said they were dealing with “a large number of faults” which meant that even after the storm had settled, it might take some time before the situation returned to normal.
– No access to Rotterdam –
Winds are expected to ease some of the afternoon, but Dutch officials have blocked all roads and bridges that are most vulnerable to traffic.
The national traffic authority counted 25 large trucks overturned by heavy winds, resulting in traffic jams on six of the country’s main roads.
The port of Rotterdam, the largest European shipping port, was “not accessible from the north due to problems” on three highways in the city, the traffic department said.
A number of German flights have been canceled at Düsseldorf (west) and Munich (south) airports. German railways Deutsche Bahn have announced that they will reduce the speed of their fast trains between Wolfsburg (north) and Berlin.
In other parts of Europe, the state of Tyrol, west of Austria, said the Westban train line between Vienna and Wallenz and Salzburg was closed on Thursday morning in case of avalanches, according to national railways.
“We do not want any risk,” the spokesman said.