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Storms cut power to 600,000 French households

SOME 400,000 homes were still without power yesterday after a violent storm knocked out electricity across a wide swath of western and central France.

The storm also disrupted travel for thousands of passengers due to fly through Paris's airports, which closed for 14 hours overnight in response to gusting winds of up to 140 kilometers per hour.

Paris's Charles de Gaulle, Orly and Le Bourget airports reopened yesterday morning, and traffic was progressively returning to normal, the region's airport authority said.

Still, it warned that delays on incoming and outgoing flights from the three airports were to be expected.

Bernard Lassus, director of France's electricity distribution network, said about 600,000 households had been affected by the power outages, but electricity had been restored to roughly half of the affected households in the hardest-hit western regions. But as the storm swept inland from the Atlantic yesterday, it caused further power cuts to other regions in the center of the country, Lassus said.

At midday, some 400,000 households were still without power.

Air France said it had put up around 3,000 passengers affected by the Paris airport closures in local hotels overnight on Monday. The airline said it had canceled 250 flights on Monday, as well as 15 percent of yesterday's scheduled short and medium-haul flights. All long-haul flights from Paris were maintained, though long delays were likely, its statement said.

The airports closed at 8pm on Monday and remained closed until 10am yesterday.

The civilian airport authority said the closures - a rare occurrence - came in response to the storm's winds, which had posed a safety threat to air traffic.

Heavy rain and gale-force winds in parts of southern England also caused flight disruptions there, as well as road closures and train cancellations.

Some areas recorded close to their monthly average rainfall for February in just 24 hours.

Heavy snow hit regions further north in England and Wales, leading to road and school closures and power outages.


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