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Updated: Mon, 28 Oct 2013 08:35:10 GMT | By The Associated Press, cbc.ca

Britain battered by wind storm that has left 4 dead



A car is crushed under a fallen tree as a man pushes a bicycle nearby following a storm, in Hornsey, north London, Monday Oct. 28, 2013. A major storm with hurricane-force winds is lashing southern Britain, causing flooding and travel delays including the cancellation of roughly 130 flights at London's Heathrow Airport. Yui Mok/PA/Associated Press

A car is crushed under a fallen tree as a man pushes a bicycle nearby following a storm, in Hornsey, north London, Monday Oct. 28, 2013. A major storm with hurricane-force winds is lashing southern Britain, causing flooding and travel delays including the cancellation of roughly 130 flights at London's Heathrow Airport. Yui Mok/PA/Associated Press

Four people were reported dead after a major storm with hurricane-force gusts lashed southern Britain, the Netherlands and parts of France on Monday, knocking down trees, flooding low areas and causing travel chaos.

Weather forecasters say it's one of the worst storms to hit Britain in years. Gusts of 160 km/h were reported on the Isle of Wight in southern England, while gusts up to 120 km/h hit the U.K. mainland.

UK Power Networks officials said up to 270,000 homes were without power. Flood alerts were issued for many parts of southern England and emergency officials said hundreds of trees had been knocked down by gusts.

London's Heathrow Airport, Europe's busiest, cancelled at least 130 flights and express trains between central London and Gatwick and Stansted airports were suspended. Huge waves prompted the major English port of Dover to close, cutting off ferry services to France.

Thousands of homes in northwestern France also lost electricity, while in the Netherlands several rail lines shut down and airport delays were reported. Dutch citizens were warned against riding their bicycles — a favoured form of transport — because of the high winds, and Amsterdam's central railway station was shut down by storm damage.

Some English rail lines also closed Monday morning, and some roads were closed due to fallen trees and power lines. There were severe delays on many parts of the London Underground and London Overground trains were delayed several hours.

In Kent, police said a 17-year-old girl died after a tree fell onto the camper home she was sleeping in. Hertfordshire police said a man in his 50s was killed when a tree fell on a car in Watford. A teenage boy drowned Sunday after being swept to sea while playing in the surf at Newhaven.

Amsterdam police said a woman was killed when a tree fell on her in the city and advised people to stay indoors.

The storm has hurricane-force gusts but is not classified as a hurricane since it did not form over warm expanses of open ocean like the hurricanes that batter the Caribbean and the eastern United States, according to Britain's national weather service, the Met Office.

Britain does not get hurricanes because hurricanes are "warm latitude" storms that draw their energy from seas far warmer than the North Atlantic, the agency said.

The storm is not named and does not have an "eye" at its centre as hurricanes typically do. On social networks it has been called stormageddon.

Sweden's Meteorological Institute upgraded its advisory Monday, warning that a "class 3" storm that could pose "great danger to the public" as it hits western and southern Sweden in the evening.

Still, the damage was less than feared in the 48 hours leading up to the storm, when the British press raised alarm bells about a possibly catastrophic storm.

British Airways said its long haul flights were expected to operate normally but domestic and European flights were operating on a reduced schedule with some cancellations. It said Gatwick and London City airport operations should not be affected.

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