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Weather

Powerful winter storm Xaver hits Scotland, Germany braces for its arrival

A powerful storm has lashed Scotland with hurricane-force winds, killing at least one person and leaving thousands without power. Officials are also taking precautions for when the storm hits northern Germany.

Bracing for 'Xaver'

The storm that hit Scotland and parts of the rest of Britain on Thursday was packing gusts of up to 228 kilometers per hour (142 miles per hour).

At least one death has been attributed to the storm after a truck driver was reported killed when his vehicle was blown onto a number of cars near Edinburgh. Police have advised drivers in Scotland to avoid using the highways.

Two other people were injured by falling trees.

Scotland's rail network suspended all operations and Glasgow's central train station had to be evacuated after debris smashed through parts of the roof made of glass.

The storm, which has been dubbed "Xaver" in Germany also left more than 20,000 homes without power, which energy provider Scottish Hydro said it was working to restore.

Further east, meanwhile, officials were taking precautions in an effort to limit any damage from the storm.

In the northern German port of Hamburg, officials ordered traditional Christmas markets to stay closed on Thursday and the temporary wooden stalls were tied down.

Around 100 flights scheduled to fly in or out of Hamburg's international airport were also cancelled from early Thursday afternoon. Train service was also being restricted and residents were advised not to go out walking in wooded areas due to the danger of falling branches.

There were also full or partial shutdowns of schools in Hamburg, as well as the northern German states of Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pommerania.

Officials in neighboring Belgium and the Netherlands, particularly in coastal areas, were also taking precautions.

"Based on simulations, we have calculated that the water level could reach 6.1 meters. That would be the highest measurement in 30 years," Carl Decaluwe, premier of West Flanders province, told the Belga news agency. "But there is no reason to panic yet."

Ferry service was also disrupted in countries bordering on the North Sea, with some German islands already temporarily cut off from the mainland by late Thursday morning.

pfd/hc (Reuters, dpa, AFP, AP)

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