Storm Ciara hits UK and Europe with hurricane-force winds, causing travel chaos

1 / 9
Large waves and sea spray caused by Storm Ciara hit vehicles being driven along the seafront in Newhaven, UK. (Reuters)
2 / 9
People walk along the promenade as waves crest in the mouth of the River Mersey, opposite Liverpool Container Port, north west England, on February 9, 2020, as Storm Ciara swept over the country. (AFP)
3 / 9
Travelers wait at the departure hall of Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on February 9, after many flights have been cancelled due to storm Ciara. (AFP)
4 / 9
Pedestrians look on as waves crash over the coastline at Wimeureux, Pas-de-Calais, in northern France on February 9, 2020, as Storm Ciara sweeps across western Europe. (AFP)
5 / 9
People view large waves caused by Storm Ciara as they hit the the seafront and wall in Newhaven. (Reuters)
6 / 9
Cars are seen submerged as flood water covers the roads and car parks in Mytholmroyd, northern England, on February 9, 2020, after the River Calder burst its banks as Storm Ciara swept over the country. (AFP)
7 / 9
Members of the fire brigade deal with dmamage caused by the wind, in Blackpool, northwest England on February 9, 2020, as Storm Ciara swept over the country. (AFP)
8 / 9
A fan walks outside the Etihad Stadium during storm Ciara after the Manchester City v. West Ham United Premier League game was postponed. (Reuters)
9 / 9
A supporter stands in front of a panel reading "On February 9th, 2020, Borussia against Cologne is cancelled" hanging from the Borussia Park stadium's gate in Moenchengladbach, western Germany on February 9, 2020. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 09 February 2020

Storm Ciara hits UK and Europe with hurricane-force winds, causing travel chaos

  • Winds their peak at 150kph in northern Welsh village of Aberdaron
  • Events across Britain, Germany and Netherlands postponed, including Manchester City Premier League game

LONDON: Storm Ciara battered the UK and northern Europe on Sunday with hurricane-level winds and heavy rains, which led to grounded flights, canceled trains and closed ports. 



Events across Britain, Germany and the Netherlands were postponed, including a Premier League football match involving Manchester City and West Ham United, as authorities urged millions of people to stay indoors, away from falling tree branches.




A fan walks outside the Etihad Stadium during storm Ciara after the Manchester City v. West Ham United Premier League game was postponed. (Reuters)

Named “Ciara” by the UK Met Office weather agency, but known as “Sabine” in Germany, the storm brought massive gusts that hit their peak at 150 kilometers per hour in the northern Welsh village of Aberdaron. Storm surges ate away at beaches and pounded rock cliffs and cement docks.


In response, the Met Office issued 190 emergency flood warnings and another 170 flood watch alerts, urging people not to try to drive through flooded roads.

Three people were injured after a roof partially collapsed on Saturday evening in the city of Perth in central Scotland.

At least 10 rail companies in Britain sent out “do not travel” warnings, while nearly 20 others told passengers to expect extensive delays. The strong winds damaged electrical wires and littered train tracks with broken tree limbs and other debris, including a family trampoline.

London’s Heathrow Airport and several airlines were forced to consolidate flights on Sunday to reduce the number of cancelation due to the high winds.

British Airways offered to rebook customers for domestic and European flights out of Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports. Virgin Airlines canceled some flights.

Brussels Airport in Belgium and Amsterdam's Schipol Airport also saw delays or cancelations.




Travelers wait at the departure hall of Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on February 9, after many flights have been cancelled due to storm Ciara. (AFP)

Two huge ports on either side of the English Channel, Dover in England and Calais in France, shut down operations amid high waves. Ferries were canceled across the region, including in the turbulent Irish Sea.

Breaking with her usual Sunday routine, Queen Elizabeth II did not attend church in Sandringham due to high winds.

In Ireland, power was knocked to an estimated 10,000 homes, farms and businesses. National weather agency Met Eireann warned that a combination of high tides, high seas and stormy conditions had created a significant risk of coastal flooding, particularly in the west and northwest.




Cars are seen submerged as flood water covers the roads and car parks in Mytholmroyd, northern England, on February 9, 2020, after the River Calder burst its banks as Storm Ciara swept over the country. (AFP)

Fierce winds knocked out electricity in northern France as well. Parks and cemeteries in the city of Lille and nearby towns shut down as strong winds cracked heavy branches and threatened to fell trees. Open-air markets also closed early Sunday.

Luxembourg announced that all schoolchildren could stay home Monday as a result of the storm.

-------

READ MORE: Riders in the storm: Dutch cyclists brave Storm Ciara in ‘Headwind Championships’

-------

In Germany, national railway operator Deutsche Bahn canceled long-distance trains to destinations most at risk from the storm, including Emden and Norddeich in Germany’s northwestern corner, the northern city of Kiel and the North Sea island of Sylt.

In the world of sports, dozens of soccer games, horse races, rugby matches and other events were called off, with the Dutch and Belgian football associations calling off all matches in their top-flight leagues due to safety concerns.

(With AP)


US accuses Hezbollah of storing explosive chemical in Europe

Updated 18 September 2020

US accuses Hezbollah of storing explosive chemical in Europe

  • Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound commonly used as a fertilizer, but it can be used to make explosives
  • It can also be dangerous in storage, as demonstrated by the huge explosion last month in Beirut

WASHINGTON: Militant group Hezbollah has stored chemicals that can be used to make explosives in several European countries, a senior State Department official said Thursday as he appealed to countries in Europe and elsewhere to impose bans on the organization.
Hezbollah operatives have moved ammonium nitrate from Belgium to France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Switzerland in recent years and are suspected to still be storing the material throughout Europe, said Nathan Sales, the State Department coordinator for counter-terrorism.
Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound commonly used as a fertilizer, but it can be used to make explosives. It can also be dangerous in storage, as demonstrated by the huge explosion last month in the Lebanese capital of Beirut.
Sales, without offering evidence, said the U.S. believes that Iran-backed Hezbollah has since 2012 transported ammonium nitrate around Europe in first aid kits with cold packs that contain the compound. The United States believes these supplies are still in place throughout Europe, possibly in Greece, Italy and Spain.
“Why would Hezbollah stockpile ammonium nitrate on European soil?" he said. “The answer is clear: Hezbollah put these weapons in place so it could conduct major terrorist attacks whenever it or its masters in Tehran deemed necessary."
Sales made the remarks in an online forum hosted by the American Jewish Committee, which has called upon more countries to ban Hezbollah and its operations.
The US has designated Hezbollah as a foreign terrorist organization since 1997, but some countries distinguish between the organization's military wing and the political wing.
The EU lists Iran-backed Hezbollah’s military wing as a banned terrorist group, but not its political wing, which has been part of Lebanese governments in recent years. Some individual countries, including Germany and the UK, have outlawed the group in its entirety. Sales called on more countries to do the same.
Hezbollah is a “unitary organization that cannot be subdivided into a military and so-called political wing," he said. Without a full ban, the group can still raise money and recruit operatives. “Hezbollah is one organization," he said. "It is a terrorist organization.”