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Clean-up begins after wild weekend

More than 150,000 lightning strikes in one night as thunderstorms and the remnants of hurricane Bertha batter France

THE CLEAN-UP has begun across France after a weekend of wild weather.

The remnants of hurricane Bertha brought heavy rain and strong winds to the north yesterday, while thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday left 55,000 homes without power and stopped trains in their tracks in the southwest.

Parts of the centre of Boulogne-sur-Mer were under a foot of water yesterday afternoon, as up to 30mm of rain fell in two hours across Pas-de-Calais, while winds of up to 97kph damaged properties, with firefighters responding to more than 100 calls in Arras, Achicourt, Bruay-la-Buissière and Auchel.

Meanwhile, tornadoes were reported in Arrageois and Landrecies, Nord. Roofs were ripped off buildings and trees felled, but no injuries were reported.

Later, both Strasbourg and Reims endured heavy rainfall and strong winds, while a fallen tree cut power between Gare de Reims-centre and Gare Champagne-Ardenne.

Meanwhile firefighters in the Vosges dealt with more than 60 call-outs following a 10-minute storm around Rupt-sur-Moselle and Gerardmer that caused numerous trees to fall.

More than 150,000 lightning strikes were recorded across France on Friday evening and into the early hours of Saturday, as violent storms swept across a swathe of the country from the Pyrenees to the Alps.

Three people were suffered serious injuries when a stage light fell on a band during a concert in Barcarès, Pyrénées-Orientales, and the roof of an HLM building was ripped off by winds of more than 100kph in Villemur-sur-Tarn in the Haute-Garonne. The 40 residents of the property were unhurt, but were evacuated to a

Winds of 122kph were recorded at Millau, while powerful gusts were also recorded in the Centre and Champagne departments. Winds of up to 111kph were recorded near Bourges and 101kph in Argers.

Up to 60mm of rain fell in both Poitou-Charentes and Pays de la Loire. The equivalent of three weeks’ of rain fell overnight in Roche-sur-Yon.

At the storms’ peak, 55,800 homes in the Midi Pyrenees and Aquitaine regions were blacked out, Le Figaro reports. Some 2,000 were still without electricity at Sunday lunchtime, electricity supplier EDF said.

Regional rail services on the Pau-Oloron route were halted after trees fell on the line. Services were finally restored early Saturday afternoon, but not before nine scheduled trains were cancelled.

Local trains between Bordeaux and Périgueux were also temporarily halted by debris on the line.

Image: France Televisions screengrab

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