Powerful storm wreaks havoc across western Europe

Amsterdam's Schiphol scraps flights as storm disrupts public transport

Powerful storm wreaks havoc across western Europe

Rescue workers are busy at the site where a vehicle was hit by a falling tree during a storm in Moers, western Germany.

Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport briefly suspended all air traffic on Thursday (Friday NZ time) as gusts of up to 140 kilometres per hour were recorded along the coast.

In Germany, a 59-year-old man was killed by a falling tree in Emmerich near the Dutch border, a spokesman for the town told Reuters, while in the western German town of Lippstadt a driver died when he lost control of his van in strong winds and drove into oncoming traffic.

In the south, the high-speed ICE trains were running as normal on Friday morning, although the service in the rest of the country remained subject to major disruptions, rail operator Deutsche Bahn said.

In the Netherlands, two people were killed by falling trees.

All long-distance trains and some regional trains were halted due to the storm raging across the country, according to Germany's railway operator Deutsche Bahn.

Meteorologists expect the current storm to travel on from Western Germany to the states of Saxony and Southern Brandenburg in the course of Thursday.

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At least 260 flights were scrapped at Schiphol.

The wind has damaged some of the overhead power lines that supply trains and brought trees crashing onto the tracks, causing severe delays for thousands of commuters. Many school children had been left without public transport to get home. The DB issued an apology for the inconvenience, but said it was unable to offer an estimate of when regular service would resume. Strong winds also blew "a few roof plates" off buildings, it said, forcing the airport to close two departure entrances.

In neighbouring Belgium, a woman driver reportedly died when her auto was crushed by a tree as she was travelling through a wood in the Grez-Doiceau area, about 35 kilometres south of Brussels.

Three of the reported deaths were in North Rhine-Westphalia, state Interior Minister Herbert Reul said, one of whom was a firefighter.

Economic losses from this month's European storm Friederike are expected to reach into the hundreds of millions of Euros, Aon Benfield have said.

In a statement, the rail operator said only a limited number of trains were operating on global routes.

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