A violent storm named Xynthia struck Europe this weekend, according to CNN. At least 58 people have been killed and 60 have been injured.
France was affected the most, with at least 47 killed and nearly 500,000 households were without electricity Monday morning, CNN reports. The Boston Globe reports that Xynthia is the worst storm France has seen since 1999 when 90 people died. Three people in Spain were also killed, four in Germany, and Portugal and Belgium reported one death each. The storm had hurricane force winds, which reached up to 200 mph on the Atlantic coast.
The worst-affected areas of France are the Vendee and Charente-Maritime regions on the western coast of France, according to BBC. Residents went to their rooftops in the Vendee region and police helicopters were attempting to locate and rescue them. Heavy flooding occurred and many buildings were destroyed due to the strong winds and huge waves that battered coastal towns. Over 100 flights scheduled to go out of Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport were cancelled due to the storm, reports CNN.
French president Nicolas Sarkozy plans on visiting the Vandee region on Monday, and offers his condolences to the relatives of victims. The French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said France would formally declare the storm a natural disaster, freeing up funds to help rebuild communities. He also said “the government will, along with the local authorities, set up without delay a special plan to rebuild and strengthen the dykes.”
Xynthia moved westward causing damage in Germany and Belgium. A man in Germany was killed by a tree that fell on his car near the Black Forest area. Also in Germany, a two year old boy drowned when he was blown into a river, according to CNN. A man in southern Belgium was killed in his garden, also by a tree that had fallen. The storm was given the name Xynthia by the Meteorology Institute at the Free University of Berlin, which names all systems that affect the weather in central Europe.