Warnings issued in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium and Denmark as record winds batter continent.

Storm Eunice has claimed the lives of at least five people on mainland Europe, after it whipped through the UK and Ireland on Friday, bringing chaos to millions.

From England, the record-breaking gales have begun moving across the continent, hitting Belgium, the Netherlands and parts of northern France, and are expected to reach Denmark and Germany on Friday evening.

Dutch authorities issued a red weather warning and hundreds of flights were cancelled, while trains were halted on Friday afternoon. Four people were reported to have been killed after being hit by falling trees. Pieces of the roof of the ADO The Hague football club stadium were blown off, authorities said.

A 79-year-old British man died in the Belgian town of Ypres after being pushed from his boat by the strong winds, according to Reuters. Belgian authorities had appealed to citizens only to venture out in an emergency, while in the northern French province of Brittany, four-metre high waves were reported and rail travel was curtailed.

In Denmark, trains were ordered to reduce speed and bridges and roads have been closed in preparation for record winds.

In Germany, where the storm has been named Zeynep by meteorologists, it is expected to reach speeds of up to 160km (100 miles) an hour and to last into the early hours of Saturday morning. In addition, a thunderstorm is expected to develop within the storm, meteorologists said. The country, along with neighbouring Poland and the Czech Republic, is still reeling from storm Ylenia, which hit on Wednesday night, uprooting trees, overturning lorries and causing three deaths in Germany, including that of a 37-year-old man whose car was hit by a tree.

Deutsche Bahn, the national train operator, cancelled regional and long-distance trains, as emergency services in parts of northern and western Germany, including North Rhine Westphalia, Berlin, Brandenburg and Hamburg, were put on high alert. A spokesperson for DB described the weather warnings as “severe” and urged travellers to delay their journeys, promising that the validity of their tickets would be extended.

The German meteorological service (DWD) declared a level three storm warning for the whole country, and highest level four warning for the entire 1,300km (808 mile)-long North Sea coast. On the North Sea islands, winds were expected to reach speeds as high as 170km (105 miles) an hour.

The carmaker Volkswagen was one of many factories to close its works in the North Sea coastal town of Emden on Friday afternoon, cancelling both the late and night shifts in anticipation of the storm.

DWD called the storms “life threatening” due mainly to flying objects such as falling trees. People were urged to close doors and windows and to secure all movable objects including garden furniture, bikes and portable bins.

DWD has predicted widespread flooding in the coming days, particularly in the port cities of Cuxhaven and Hamburg, which was also badly hit by Wednesday’s storm. Authorities said they were braced for water levels to rise three metres above their usual height and put officials on standby to observe all dykes in the region.

The weather is expected to remain stormy across large parts of Germany over the following days. (The Guardian)

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