The Latest: Dutch close waterway locks to prevent floods

AP News
Posted: Jan 13, 2017 11:18 AM
The Latest: Dutch close waterway locks to prevent floods

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on severe weather in Europe (all times local):

5:15 p.m.

Dutch water management authorities have closed several locks across waterways to prevent flooding as a high tide coinciding with a strong storm over the North Sea pushes up water levels near the coast of this low-lying nation.

Locks in the Haringvliet south of Rotterdam and the Hollandsche Ijssel east of Rotterdam were closed to protect low-lying areas. Locks also were closed in the 32.5-kilometer (20-mile) Afsluitdijk dike that separates the IJsellmeer inland sea from the Wadden Sea north of Amsterdam.

The national water authority says that several other major locks weren't expected to close because water levels weren't high enough.

Around 26 percent of the Netherlands lies below sea level and a further 29 percent is within river flood plains, meaning that 55 percent of the country is considered susceptible to flooding, according to the government's Environmental Assessment Agency.

The nation of 17 million people relies on a vast network of dams, locks, canals and pumping stations to prevent flooding.


4:50 p.m.

French police say that a big tree snapped in a powerful gust of wind and killed a 43-year-old woman in front of her children.

She was killed in the hills above Nice in the south of France as she was leaving her house with her children to take them to school on Friday morning.

The children called their father who used a chain saw to try to free his wife from under the fallen Cypress tree. But she was already dead when a fire crew arrived, according to Lt. Col. Dominique Blasius with the gendarmerie for the Alpes-Maritimes region.

He said that "she was hit on the head. This happened in front of her children."


3:50 p.m.

The Vatican is letting homeless people sleep in a Rome church during a spell of unusually cold weather for the Italian capital.

In Rome lately, nighttime temperatures have dropped below freezing.

The Vatican say that around 30 people, Italians and foreigners, have accepted the invitation to sleep inside St. Calixtus church, whose foundations were laid near a well where Pope Calixtus I was martyred in 222.

Inside the church, which is Vatican property, the homeless are using sleeping bags or blankets. Since the stone interior of the church is cold itself, electric heaters have been placed on the floor.

Pope Francis has stressed helping those on society's margins. The Vatican has also let homeless people get warm in some of its vehicles parked near St. Peter's Square at night.


3:25 p.m.

British authorities have put the military on standby in the event of flooding along the east coast of Britain. Warnings have been issued.

Environment Agency national duty manager Mark Sitton-Kent says that "the combination of gale-force winds, high tides, dangerous waves carrying rocks and a coastal surge means parts of the east coast are extremely dangerous."

Snow has also hit parts of Britain.


12:50 p.m.

A hunter in Germany has put on show a block of ice containing a fox that he says fell into the chilly Danube and drowned, in what he calls a warning of the dangers of the icy river.

Franz Stehle has told news agency dpa that the block containing the fox was extracted from the ice on Jan. 2 and put on display outside his family's hotel in Fridingen. The town is on the upper reaches of the Danube, close to its source in southwestern Germany.

Stehle says that it's not unusual for animals to break through the frozen surface of the river in winter. He says he's seen a frozen deer and wild boar before.


11:50 a.m.

Violent overnight storms have hit northern France injuring scores and leaving 200,000 homes without electricity.

Strong winds caused havoc for some rail passengers who were stranded overnight Thursday to Friday in a high-speed Thalys train after a tree was blown onto the tracks.

The 210 passengers spent the night without electricity, heating and liquids in the train that was travelling from Brussels to Paris. The track has now been cleared.

France's Interior Ministry said Friday that about 46 people were injured overnight in weather-related accidents, although none seriously and it reported no deaths.

Authorities said areas worst hit included Normandy and Picardy where respectively 76,000 homes and 61,000 homes were without electricity Friday — and that emergency services were called out 4,041 times to deal with the storms' impact.