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Eight killed in Germany by storm that swept UK

Scenes from Bielefeld, western Germany
Image: Scenes from Bielefeld, western Germany

The number of people killed in a storm that battered Britain before sweeping across the continent to Germany has risen to at least eight.

Gales hit the UK overnight Wednesday into Thursday with speeds of around 93mph in northern Wales, and similarly powerful gusts have been reported in Germany.

Two people have died in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, with a 65-year-old man killed after falling eight metres as he tried to secure his roof and a 34-year-old man crushed by a falling tree.

A firefighter cuts a tree after it fell on a fence of the zoological garden of Gera eastern Germany
Image: A firefighter cuts a fallen tree at the zoological garden of Gera in eastern Germany

Six other deaths were reported across central and northern Germany, where transport networks have been crippled by the weather.

German rail firm Deutsche Bahn has resumed operations after cancelling all services on Thursday, but further delays are possible due to damage to the tracks caused by fallen trees.

Insurers have estimated that the storm – dubbed Friederike – has caused €500m (£442m) in damages so far, with hundreds of rail staff in the northern state of Rhine-Westphalia – the most populous in the country – working overnight to clear tracks of fallen branches and trees.

Travellers experience disruption in Berlin
Image: Travellers were disrupted at Berlin station

The roads were not safe from the impact of the storm either, with authorities in Cologne reporting the birth of a baby boy in his parents’ car after they were caught up in the traffic chaos caused by the extreme conditions. His parents have named him Anton.

Meteorologists have compared Friederike to winter storm Kyrill, which caused more than €2bn (£1.76bn) worth of insured damage in 2007. Friederike is thought to be one of the strongest storms to hit Germany since then.

The extreme weather has caused train cancellations across Germany
Image: The extreme weather has caused train cancellations across Germany

Elsewhere, three people have been killed in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Dutch insurers believe €90m (£79m) of damage has been caused to homes and cars across the country, but the cost to businesses, government buildings and agriculture has not yet been counted.

And in Poland, the winter storm has destroyed 65 buildings and left 55,000 people without power.

Heidi has her ears fluttering in the wind as she is walked by her master Eberhard in Reutlingen, southern Germany
Image: A dog is buffeted by the wind in Reutlingen, southern Germany

In the hardest-hit area in the south, the wind speed topped 62mph and brought heavy snowfall, which triggered a number of traffic accidents.

Among them, a bus carrying 40 children fell into a ditch in Poznan and a truck was blown off the ground in the southern province of Wojewodztwo Dolnoslaskie.

Gale-force winds hit Rotterdam
Image: Gale-force winds hit Rotterdam

The capital Warsaw has also seen heavy snow and gale-force winds.

Meanwhile, surfers in the Portuguese resort of Nazare have been making the most of massive waves, curling up to 20 metres high.

Cologne has experienced winds of up to 80mph
Image: Cologne has experienced winds of up to 80mph

There is no end in sight either, with more bad weather due in the UK as the weekend beckons.

Northern Ireland and Scotland have borne the brunt of the Arctic conditions this week and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged people to heed further warnings.

She tweeted on Friday: “@metoffice has issued amber weather warning for parts of Strathclyde, Central & South West Scotland, Tayside and Fife. This means there is a HIGH risk of travel disruption. Please AVOID travel this afternoon/evening if you can.”

:: UK weather: The latest Sky News forecast

Dolly the Tibetan Terrier at the Braco Castle Lodge park in Perthshire
Image: Dolly the Tibetan Terrier at the Braco Castle Lodge park in Perthshire earlier this week

Up to 12 inches (30cm) of snow is possible in the highest parts of Scotland, with up to four inches (10cm) at lower levels.

Forecasters have said there is a chance of power cuts and some rural communities could be cut off.

Superintendent Louise Blakelock, of Police Scotland’s Road Policing department, said: “If you travel on the road network in the warning area, you will be disrupted and you will face significant delays.

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“I would like to make it clear that there is a high risk of disruption for road journeys and with that comes a high likelihood of the conditions being very poor, therefore I would ask people whether their journey is really necessary?”

A less severe yellow warning is also in place for snow and ice for most of Scotland, Northern Ireland, the northwest and northeast of England, Yorkshire and Humber until 11.55pm on Friday.

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