Killer Storm Sweeps Europe

A strong storm blasted across northern Europe, killing at least 14 people, injuring dozens more, and leaving thousands Saturday to clean up debris-strewn streets, felled trees and flooded homes.

Packing gale-force winds that toppled trees and construction cranes with ease, the storm swept Friday across Britain and continuing eastward over Denmark, northern Germany, southern Sweden and Poland.

Experts in several countries called it one of the strongest storms of the century, and damage was estimated in the tens of millions of dollars across the area.

By Saturday, the skies were sunny and bright blue in much of the region. Weather officials said the storm passed over the Baltics and was in western Russia by the evening, but with significantly weaker winds of only about 56 mph.

Officials throughout the region worked to repair power lines cut to thousands of homes and businesses.

Six people died in Denmark, which was hit hardest by the storm. Three of the victims died in separate locations when they crashed their cars into fallen trees. At least three people died in Poland, three more died in Britain and two more in Germany.

Numerous injuries were reported throughout the region, mostly caused by fallen tree branches or roof tiles tossed about by the rough weather.

Many hospitals were forced to use generators, while authorities worked to repair power lines cut by flying branches or felled trees.

An estimated 160,000 homes in Denmark and Sweden were without electricity Saturday, local media reported. A nuclear reactor at the Barsebaeck power plant in southern Sweden was shut down overnight. The shutdown was described as routine, and did not pose a safety threat.

In Copenhagen, large chunks of the roof of the parliament building crashed on the square, prompting police to seal the area off.

The storm also brought flooding to low-lying areas. Dozens in southwestern Danish towns were forced to evacuate, as the sea rose more than 16.5 feet above normal level.

Residents in parts of the northern German port city of Hamburg, where water rose almost 20 feet above normal, were told to go the upper floors of their buildings.

The storm also played havoc with Saturday's football matches in Scotland, where only one game escaped cancellation.

And travel was disrupted throughout the region, with streets clogged with tree branches and railway lines lacking power.

Authorities closed some bridges and highways in Denmark and southern Sweden, and planes were grounded at Denmark's two main airports in Copenhagen and the western town of Billund. They resumed flying Saturday.

Roads were temporarily closed in the center of Cardiff, Wales, on Friday after a flagpole crashed on the roof of a Welsh Assembly building.

Two Polish border crossings to Russia were closed because of fallen trees. Many local trains in the region were canceled or rerouted, delaying trips up to three hours.

West of Germany's Sylt, the Liberian freighter Lucky Fortune" suffered a breakdown in the rolling seas and went out of control before it was able to be towed to safety Saturday morning.

An Irish Air Corps helicopter on Saturday evacuated 17 people who had been stranded for six days by storms on Tory Island, off the coast of County Donegal in northwestern Ireland.

And in Danish and Polish shipyards, huge cranes were blown over by the gales, but no one was injured.