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Storm update: Man killed by falling tree in north France

The accident happened as Storm Mathis caused high winds and some tornadoes. Pas-de-Calais remains on orange storm alert

A photo of a wind sock against a stormy, grey sky

Storm Mathis brought winds of up to 120km/h and one man died after being hit by a tree Pic: Alexander Sobol / Shutterstock

A man has died after being hit by a falling tree during stormy weather in northern France, while the Pas-de-Calais department remains on orange alert due to Storm Mathis.

The accident happened at a motorway rest stop today (March 31) in Senones (Vosges). It was caused by “violent winds” caused by Storm Mathis, which had led forecaster Météo France to issue yellow and orange storm alerts in 80 departments across the country.

The man was walking near his vehicle when he was hit by the tree. Firefighters and SAMU workers rushed to revive him, and an emergency helicopter was dispatched, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Local tornadoes

Storm Mathis has swept over the country already, causing damage in other departments, especially Indre. The Mairie in Buzançais reported “a tornado”, and 55 firefighters were called to intervene to incidents including fallen trees, and damaged roofs and chimneys.

A tornado was also reported in the village of Saint-Jean-de-Sauve in Vienne, where several houses and businesses lost their roofs. An elderly care home and a school building were also affected. No-one was injured.

Mayor Christian Moreau told BFMTV: “It was brutal. [The tornado] only lasted around 30 seconds, but residents responded and stayed at home, which avoided any further major problems.

“One family was particularly affected because their roof flew off. We’ll find them temporary housing because they could be ‘homeless’ for a few days or weeks.”

Gusts of wind of up to 70-80 km/h, and even a few of 90-100 km/h, were recorded. Météo France said: “The wind from the west to the southwest was very strong.”

Pas-de-Calais on alert

At the time of writing, Pas-de-Calais still remains on orange alert (the second-most severe), with wind gusts of “up to 110 km/h, and even 120 km/h, expected on the coast”, the forecaster said.

Météo France still has 75 departments on alert for storms, with those in the Alps on avalanche watch, and the departments of Gironde, Landes, and Pyrenées-Atlantiques on alert for strong waves and flooding.

The forecaster said: “The passage of Storm Mathis over the south of the British Isles will cause a significant strengthening of the wind during Friday. These violent winds will mainly affect Pas-de-Calais.”

Only the very south of the country, from Gers in the west to Var in the east, has escaped any kind of weather warning for now.

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