Winds of up to 140km/h hit north-west France

10:32, 10 February 2009
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Main airports closed for the first time in 34 years

Winds of up to 140km/h (87mph) have hit northern and western France, disrupting power supplies and transport routes, according to BBC.

Both main airports serving Paris -Charles de Gaulle and Orly - are closed for the first time in 34 years.

Air France said it had cancelled 210 flights, and has booked more than 2,000 hotel rooms for stranded passengers.

The airports are not due to reopen until 1000 (0900 GMT). Some 3,000 households are without electricity in western areas.

Ferry services between Brittany and nearby islands have been suspended, operators Oceane and Penn Ar Bedd said.

Brittany Ferries also postponed the inaugural sailing on Tuesday of its service from Roscoff to Plymouth, in southern England.

The French navy has put three rescue vessels on stand-by to help any shipping in difficulty. Sand bags have been deployed on seafronts exposed to possible flooding.

Flood alert

In Paris, travellers were asked not to head to the city`s airports, which closed at 2000 (1900GMT) on Monday.

Flights had been disrupted for two hours before the closures. Charles de Gaulle is one the busiest airports in Europe.

Forecasters predicted, however, that the storm would not be as bad as the one that lashed France and Spain on 24 January, leaving 11 dead and causing widespread damage.

In England, heavy rain sweeping across the country has left many councils on "full alert" in preparation for floods.

The UK saw the heaviest snowfall for 18 years last week and forecasters warn more snow is on the way over parts of Wales and the Midlands.

 

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