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The BBC's Jon Sopel
"The latest death toll is rising"
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BBC's Catherine Guilyardi in Paris
"Chaos and desolation were the two words used to describe Paris' main monuments"
 real 28k

BBC's Daniel Schweimler in Madrid
"Havoc across northern and central Spain"
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Tuesday, 28 December, 1999, 15:55 GMT
'Powerless' France appeals for help

versailles About 10,000 trees were uprooted at Versailles


France has appealed for help from abroad as it struggles to cope with the devastation caused by the violent storms, which have killed over 100 people in Europe.

Electricite de France (EDF), the country's national power company, has requested extra pylons, cables and generators from Germany, the UK and Spain to combat the worst crisis in its history.

"We are certain those countries will respond favourably to our appeal," said an EDF spokesman.



France has been hurt ... it should now bandage its wounds
President Jacques Chirac

Some 3.5 million households in France are without power and all train services have been halted in the southwest.

Engineers say they do not expect all those cut off to have their power supplies restored in time for New Year's Eve.

French President Jacques Chirac met EDF officials on Tuesday to discuss the situation.


School The blown-off roof of a school near Grenoble, southeast France

"France has been hurt, and many French people are facing a cruel ordeal," Mr Chirac said.

"A considerable solidarity effort has been launched. Solidarity is a must within our family - France - which is in need, and which should now bandage its wounds."

Storms return

A second wave of fierce gales hit the French and Spanish Atlantic coasts overnight on Monday, killing another 16 people in France and six more in Spain.

High winds are still buffeting Italy and Switzerland and there has been serious flooding in northern France and Belgium.


paris Workers begin clearing damaged trees from the streets of Paris

Emergency services in France were already struggling to cope with the damage caused by fatal storms on Sunday, when at least 40 people were reported killed.

That figure accounted for almost half the toll of 82 lives claimed on Sunday by storms sweeping across several European countries.

Tragic deaths

Six of the victims of Monday's storm were drivers whose cars were hit by falling trees in the Charente region on France's south-west coast.

Another person was killed by a falling chimney stack in the area, where the local authorities have declared a state of emergency.

A 12-year-old boy was killed when a tree fell onto his home further inland at Haute-Vienne, and a 70-year-old woman from Bordeaux was also killed by a falling tree, police said.


Oil clean-up Volunteers mop up oil at La Baule in Brittany
Flood waters, fallen trees and power failures brought disruption to France's road, rail and air networks on Monday night.

In Spain, the authorities said violent winds of up to 130 km/h (80mph) pushed a wall down on two construction workers in Oviedo.

Two others died when a crane fell on them in Bilbao, while a fifth was killed in nearby Barakaldo when he was crushed by a construction site hut.

A 45-year-old woman also died of hypothermia after falling overboard in the bay of Santander.

The rail service between Madrid and Paris has been suspended - one train returned to Madrid after encountering difficult conditions in northern Spain.

The adverse weather conditions have also hampered efforts to clean up oil slicks from the sunken Maltese tanker Erika, on France's Atlantic Coast.

National monuments damaged

Paris was hit on Sunday by the strongest winds to hit the city in 50 years - some 60,000 trees were uprooted or damaged in forests on the outskirts of Paris, and another 2,000 along the city's streets.

Slabs of roofing on the Notre Dame cathedral were blown off and a stained glass window at the Sainte-Chapelle was shattered by flying stonework.



This storm is a catastrophe without precedent
Prime Minister Lionel Jospin
The royal palace at Versailles suffered damage to the roof and windows, while 10,000 trees were torn down in the grounds, including 200-year-old cedars planted during the rule of Napoleon.

The National Fund for Historic Sites and Monuments estimated that it would take between 400m and 500m francs ($62-77m) to repair damaged cultural monuments.

French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, who flew back early from a trip to Egypt to inspect damage, declared the affected area a disaster zone, meaning that insurance payments can be rushed through.


Sestriere Rescuers pulled one man alive from an avalanche in Italy
Inspecting the damage at Versailles, he said: "This storm is a catastrophe without precedent. It was an exceptional, cataclysmic event with massive consequences."

In Germany, where some 17 people were reported killed over the weekend, roads were still blocked by trees by winds gusting up to 200kph.

In neighbouring Switzerland, where at least 12 people were killed in weekend storms, avalanche warnings were issued and thousands of homes were still without power.

In the Italian Alps, four climbers were killed by an avalanche in the Argentera valley on Sunday afternoon.

In Britain, the storms killed eight people, and left hundreds of families mopping up after high tides engulfed homes on the south coast. Flood warnings remain on many rivers.

Police in Hungary said four people had frozen to death over the weekend.

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See also:
28 Dec 99 |  Europe
Paris storms threaten millennium chaos
28 Dec 99 |  Europe
Eleven die in Austrian avalanches
27 Dec 99 |  Europe
In pictures: Storms ravage Europe
28 Dec 99 |  Europe
Jospin pledges action on oil tankers
27 Dec 99 |  UK
Austria bus crash injures 10
28 Dec 99 |  UK
Oil birds arrive in UK

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