Extreme weather kills 13 in Europe

Hurricane-strength winds howled across Europe over the weekend, killing 13 people and leaving a trail of destruction as cars were blown off the road, roofs were ripped off and trees fell like matchsticks. ( AFP )

The storm, dubbed "Emma" by forecasters, brought with it winds of up to 200 kilometres (125 miles) an hour and heavy rains as it ripped its way across central Europe.

As the winds eased slightly on Sunday Germany reported five people dead, Austria four, the Czech Republic two and Poland two.

In Rhineland-Palatinate in western Germany a driver was crushed when a tree fell on his car, while a 72-year-old man in Bavaria perished when a gust of wind pushed his car into the path of an oncoming lorry, police said.

In Baden-Wuerttemberg a 19-year-old man was killed in another head-on collision caused by the wind, while in Saxony a 48-year-old woman died and four people were injured in a car crash caused by snow and strong winds.

In Saxony-Anhalt in eastern Germany a 48-year-old man died when winds made him lose control of his minivan on the motorway.

Six people were hurt when their bus was blown off the road and into a ditch in Bavaria, while rail passengers had a lucky escape near Bonn when their train hit a tree that had fallen on the line, ripping a large hole in the locomotive.

Across Germany, roads and railway lines were closed, roofs were ripped off houses, cars were overturned and power lines put out of action.

Authorities said tens of millions of euros (dollars) worth of damage has been caused.

The southern state of Bavaria was particularly badly hit, with 150,000 homes without electricity and heavy rain causing flooding, police said.

In Austria, where winds reached up to 166 kilometres per hour, two German tourists were killed on Saturday in separate incidents in the western province of Tyrol.

In the central Salzburg province, a taxi passenger was killed by rockfall apparently caused by the storm and a woman was crushed in Lower Austria when a tree squashed her car.

Some 10,000 homes in Upper Austria were without power, roads and sections of motorway had to be shut down and rail services around the country were severely disrupted.

Two people were also killed in the Czech Republic, emergency services said.

An 11-year-old girl died from her injuries after a tree fell on her in Libeznice, near Prague, while an 80-year-old man perished when a metal roof fell on top of him near Nymburk, in the east of the country.

About 40 people had to be evacuated from a block of flats in Prague after its roof was ripped off, and 100,000 people were without electricity in the western Karlovarsky region. Train services were disrupted across the country.

In Poland there were two fatalities including a 42-year-old killed when a tree blew over and flattened his car.

A 28-year-old man was also killed when a piece of metal blown off the lorry he was travelling behind hit his car 120 kilometres north of Warsaw.

Polish rescue services attended to 2,500 emergency calls overnight and on Sunday morning. Thousands of homes were left without power.

In the Netherlands, flights to and from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport suffered severe delays as only one runway could be used for take-offs and landings.

The government also warned of potential flooding, while in Romania, flooding caused a bridge to collapse and four ports on the Black Sea were closed.

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