BBC Home
Explore the BBC

CBBC

UK

Last Updated: Monday March 01 2010 15:46 GMT

Storm clear-up in western Europe

Storm clear-up in France

A clear-up operation is under way after a huge Atlantic storm ripped through parts of Western Europe at the weekend.

The French coast was worst affected and France has declared a natural disaster in the area after hurricane force winds tore down buildings and trees.

More than 50 people have died in the bad weather and around a million more were left without electricity.

The wild weather also smashed into Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Germany as the storms moved to the north east.

In France, the torrential rain and heavy winds brought down trees, destroyed power lines and flooded large areas.

Police helicopters looking for people stranded on roofs.
Police helicopters looking for people stranded on roofs.

The French Government has put parts of the country on red alert but says it's going to take time to restore power everywhere, because fallen trees are blocking roads and making it difficult for engineers.

Search for survivors

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has promised to release enough money to help people rebuild their homes and lives.

"The priority now is to make all the homeless people safe, all the people who are still threatened by the rising waters," he said.

Around 10,000 emergency workers are still searching for, and helping, survivors of the storms.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has visited two of the worst affected areas - the Vendee and Charente-Maritime regions on the west coast - and praised the efforts of the emergency services.

Storms predicted

Elsewhere, a flash flood in Portugal's Azores islands in the Atlantic ocean swept a school bus off the road. The driver and one child are still missing.

In Germany, Portugal and Spain people have been killed by falling trees in the stormy weather.

Forecasters did predict the storms, but the wild weather ended up hitting a wider area than originally thought.

A map showing the direction of the Atlantic storm