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Southern France battered by storm force winds leaving 220,000 homes without power

A cyclist stands on his bike on a Garonne river's flooded bank in Bordeaux, southwestern France, on 13 December 2019, following strong winds and heavy rains.
A cyclist stands on his bike on a Garonne river's flooded bank in Bordeaux, southwestern France, on 13 December 2019, following strong winds and heavy rains. AFP/Nicolas Tucat

One person has died in southern France and at least 220,000 homes were without power on Friday after powerful winds swept across Atlantic coastal regions overnight, at times gusting to 140 km/h.

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Rescue services said a 70-year-old man died in the Basque Country near Ilharre when his vehicle struck a tree that had fallen into the road during the storms.

Five others were injured, two seriously, when trees fell on their vehicles.

Grid operator Enedis said at one point during the night some 400,000 homes were without power, after 14 departments were placed on high wind and flooding alerts. And 170,000 were still without service by Friday afternoon.

Eight departments, mainly in the Occitanie region closer to the Mediterranean, as well as the island of Corsica were still on alert Friday, according to weather service Meteo France, severely disrupting maritime travel.

Meteo France also warned the winds posed heightened avalanche risks in the Alps over the next 24 hours, in particular in the popular skiing departments of Isere and Savoie.

Although the winds are forecast to ease later Friday, Meteo France said it expected them to intensify again into the weekend.

In the popular surfing towns of Biarritz and Anglet, authorities closed beaches Friday on expectations of dangerous waves during the afternoon high tide.

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