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Storm hits homes, ferries cancelled

Thousands of homes are without power and ferry trips are being disrupted as Storm Petra batters France

TWENTY-FIVE thousand homes are without power in Brittany as a storm that had earlier hit Britain and Ireland lashes France’s Atlantic coast.

Brittany Ferries has delayed or cancelled several trips to Spain and England, while maritime links to Belle-Ile-en-Mer off the Morbihan coast have also been suspended.

Wind speeds of up to 153kph were recorded near Camaret-sur-Mer yesterday evening, as Storm Petra battered the region, bringing down trees and power lines.

After an overnight lull, Petra will pick up strength again today, with high seas expected to cause disruption along the coast.

In Finistère, 13,000 homes were cut off overnight, as were 7,000 homes in the Côtes d'Armor, 4,000 in Morbihan and 1,000 in Ille-et-Vilaine. At the height of the storm, at about 11pm last night, as many as 40,000 homes were plunged into darkness.

"We're still assessing the situation, especially with regard to low-voltage lines. We will have a clearer picture of the damage later in the morning," said a spokesman for national electricity distribution company ERDF.

Authorities in Morbihan mobilised 1,000 firefighters as calls to emergency services rose. Between 14.00 yesterday and 6.00 today, they dealt with 236 call-outs - including 166 for fallen trees. In Finistère, firefighters were called out 400 times between 14.00 and 22.00 yesterday.

There is no reprieve from the storm today. Nine departments on the Atlantic west - Charente-Maritime, Côtes-d'Armor, Finistère, Gironde, Landes, Loire-Atlantique, Morbihan, Pyrénées-Atlantiques and Vendée - remain on orange alert, Météo France’s second highest danger level, for coastal flooding and strong winds.

Waves as high as 14m are expected off the coast of Finistère and - after a brief overnight lull - wind speeds are set to increase to 140kph, with exposed headlands expected to experience gusts of 150kph or more.

Photo: Météo France

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