Where: Paris, France
March 1, 2010 : A violent storm originating in the Atlantic Ocean crashed into the western coasts of France, Portugal and Spain on February 28, 2010. The storm, named Xynthia, left more than 50 people dead and thousands homeless along France’s Atlantic coast. The storm killed people in Germany, Spain and Portugal, but France had the maximum number of casualties.
Winds raging at speeds of 140 kilometres (87miles) per hour moved from Portugal up through the Bay of Biscay and struck the French coast. There was torrential rain as well. The storm later swept north-eastwards into Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. High speed winds struck the Swiss Alps.
Many people died after the sea wall off the French coastal town of L’Aiguillon-sur-Mer broke. The sea walls dated back to the 19th century – to the time of Napoleon. Waves as tall as eight metres(26feet) crashed through the streets. Inland areas were flooded and buildings destroyed. Many people drowned or were hit by falling trees and parts of buildings. Electricity went out in more than a million homes. Air France cancelled 100 flights from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Winds at the speed of 175km/hour hit the top of the Eiffel Tower.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has allotted three million euros for emergency aid. The President toured Vendee and Charente-Maritime, the worst-affected western coastal regions, and declared that the country was in the midst of a national disaster. “It’s a national catastrophe; a human drama with a terrible toll.” he said.