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Wednesday, 29 December, 1999, 11:00 GMT
European storms cost $5bn

car and tree Road and rail links were extensively damaged


The storms that have ravaged Europe are likely to have caused at least $5bn (5bn euro) in damage.

That is the estimate of French insurance firm SCOR, which says its profits will be $50m (50m euro) lower as a result of payouts for the damages.

The estimate was made on SCOR's computer model for damage assessment from natural disasters, after contact with weather services across Europe.


Windows were blown out all over Paris Windows were blown out all over Paris

"The severity of the national disasters that took place in 1999 should result in a significant increase in premium rates in the fiscal year to come," it added.

The French insurance industry estimates that for France alone, the cost will exceed $1.3bn, more than that from the devastating storms in 1990.

Massive damage

Hurricane force winds ripped through the country on Monday and Tuesday, downing trees and powerlines and causing widescale disruption.

France's main electricity company, EdF, said a quarter of its high tension electricity transmission grid had been damaged.

Over 2.9m people remained without electricity, as the company appealed for help from abroad.

And 400,000 are still without telephones, as local networks are starved of power.

Meanwhile, the railway company SNCF reported more than $50m in damage to the rail infrastructure.

No trains were running from Paris to Bordeaux, while only one in three to the East were operating.

Storms have also closed ports and blocked roads across Europe, delaying grain and oil unloading.

Shares tumble

Fears over the cost of the storm damage hurt the shares of insurance companies on the Paris Stock Market.

At 0917GMT, SCOR shares were down 1.5 euros or 3.5% to 42.96 euros.

Among other French insurance companies, Axa shares was up 0.20 at 139.50 euros, and AGF was 0.05 euro lower at 53.5 euros.

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See also:
28 Dec 99 |  Europe
Paris storms threaten millennium chaos
27 Dec 99 |  Europe
In pictures: Storms ravage Europe
29 Dec 99 |  Europe
Storms death toll rises
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