Storms leave six dead in France

Six people died, thousands of homes were blacked out and air traffic delayed as violent storms hit northern France.

Six people died, thousands of homes were blacked out and air traffic delayed as violent storms hit northern France.

Tourist hotspots like the Eiffel Tower reopened today after yesterday’s hurricane-force gusts, while the Paris airports’ authority said some international flights were still being delayed up to four hours.

The storms killed at least six people – some crushed by falling trees – and forced the closure of famed Paris parks. Winds clocked at up to 80 miles an hour in northern France also cut electricity and damaged homes.

“Tonight families are mourning, so we are thinking about them,” said Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin during a visit to a utility crisis centre near Paris.

Utility Electricite de France said about 63,000 homes of the 400,000 blacked out in northwest France remained without electricity. Television reports showed images of rescue workers lifting stones that had fallen from chimneys and ripped gaping holes in rooftops.

Blue skies returned to Paris today, and weather forecaster Meteo downgraded its four-point alert system by a notch when the storms eased late last night.

Downed electric lines over railways interrupted train service in two areas of north-eastern France, although the service was expected to return to normal later today, national rail operator SNCF said.

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