Five die as storm batters the Netherlands (Update 4)

At least five people were killed as winds of up to 130kph battered the Netherlands on Thursday evening. Ten thousand commuters were stranded at railway stations as the rail network shut down. On the roads, there were long delays as storm damage led to road closures. Only one of Schiphol airport’s five runways was operating.

Two people were killed when a tree crashed onto their car in Ede. In Leersum, a motorcyclist was killed in an accident involving a fallen tree and in Riel in Brabant, a child on a bike was blown under a car. Later in the evening, a man on a moped died when a tree fell on him in Noord Brabant.
Elsewhere dozens of people were injured by flying glass and roof tiles. Six people travelling on a bus in Tholen in Zeeland were hurt after the bus was hit by a gust of wind and blown into a tree. In Utrecht, a building site crane blew onto a building on the university campus, injuring at least four. In Apeldoorn the roof blew off a Chinese restaurant.
Thousands of commuters were stranded in Thursday’s rush hour as train services were cancelled and roads partially closed. In Amsterdam, part of the city’s central station was evacuated after sections of the glass roof blew off. Thousands of people were stranded and the Rai exhibition centre was opened up as emergency accommodation.
In Utrecht, over 1,600 people took shelter in the Jaarbeurs exhibition centre. Some 400 people had to spend the night in Den Bosch after rail travel was halted. Dozens of rail passengers were also stranded in Leeuwarden. A train driver near Venlo was injured when his train ran into a tree which had been blown over the track.
Road users also faced long delays, which lasted deep into the night in places. The A2 was closed near Abcoude because parts of the noise barriers threatened to blow off. Police commandeered lorries to park close to the barriers to act as a windbreak, TV news reported.
There were massive jams on the A1 because of water on the road. KPN said the telephone network was having to cope with 50% more calls than normal as people tried to phone home.
Plane travellers at Schiphol airport were having to cope with long delays. Only 30 planes an hour were being allowed to take off and land. The airport authorities expected several hundred international passengers to spend the night at the airport.
In Rotterdam port, an estimated 200 to 400 cubic metres of oil leaked into the sea after a container ship rammed the MOT oil terminal. The high seas made it impossible to contain the oil.
In Friesland, the water level rose to 3.40 metres above NAP – 10 centimetres above the alarm level – at the height of the storm.
The KNMI weather bureau said it was the most severe storm to hit the Netherlands since October 2002. The worst storm in recent years was on January 25, 1990, when 17 people died as winds reached Force 11. The two other storms this winter – including the one last week – reached Force 9.
Elsewhere in Europe, some 17 people died in the gale force winds. In the UK, the death toll reached 10, while in Germany six people died. Other deaths were recorded in the Czech Republic, Belgium and France

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