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French storm kills at least six

A storm packing hurricane-force winds lashed northern France on Friday, killing at least six people and forcing the closure of the Eiffel Tower.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A powerful storm packing hurricane-force winds lashed northern France on Friday, killing at least six people — some crushed by falling trees — and forcing officials to close the Eiffel Tower and the famed Paris parks.

At least six people were reported injured from Normandy to Paris. Three people were reported missing in the western city of Brest, in Brittany.

Winds of up to 80 mph delayed flights out of Paris, cut electricity to some 220,000 homes and damaged cars, scaffolding and other property, officials said.

A 61-year-old Parisian woman died when her car was crushed by a tree in the chic 16th district, Paris police headquarters said. Another victim was killed in a fall, according to the prefecture of the Yvelines region west of Paris. Officials had reported earlier that the victim was decapitated by flying sheet metal.

Elsewhere, a 24-year-old man was killed by a falling tree as he rode his motorbike near Compiegne, north of Paris, and a 25-year-old woman was killed in Gruny, in the northern Somme region, when a tree fell on her car. Two men, one 53, the other 62, were killed in the Aisne region, local officials said.

France-Info radio said a seventh person had died, but authorities could not confirm the report.

Rescue workers in Paris closed the Sainte-Chapelle monument, renowned for its stained glass windows, because a stone angel on its roof risked being toppled by the gusts. Paris City Hall then ordered the Eiffel Tower closed as well as Paris parks and outdoor ice skating rinks.

Winds pounded the country’s north, prompting authorities to raise the nation’s weather alert to orange — one below the highest of four levels.

Air and train traffic was interrupted, with about 100 flights delayed, according to Aeroports de Paris, which operates the capital’s airports.

Traffic on the TGV fast train between Paris and Lille also was interrupted, according to officials in the Pas-de-Calais.

Paris police were called into action 320 times, headquarters said.

In western France, the Normandy Bridge, a suspension bridge near the port of Le Havre, was closed, RTL radio reported.

Officials warned drivers to take care and pedestrians to watch for flying branches and roof tiles.