Storm chaos claims lives

Torrential rain turned this road near Reigate in England into a river. Other areas of the country were also hit by flooding, and transport was disrupted. Photo / AP
Torrential rain turned this road near Reigate in England into a river. Other areas of the country were also hit by flooding, and transport was disrupted. Photo / AP

High winds, torrential rain and crashing waves killed two people in the Canary Islands and forced a Spanish opera house to close, and blustery weather elsewhere in Europe delayed trains and caused severe flooding.

Authorities have warned that more wild weather will hit this week.

A 47-year-old man and an 11-year-old girl drowned in the Canary Islands when they were swept away by waves on La Graciosa Island on Friday, the regional government said yesterday.

Two other members of the same family, a 16-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, were rescued by boats.

In another incident, a Russian yachtsman was plucked from his foundering vessel.

Valencia's opera house, which was to have hosted a concert, was shut after parts of the building's masonry fell off.

Regional government spokesman Maximo Buch said the building would remain closed until repairs make it safe again.

The music venue, designed by Valencia-born architect Santiago Calatrava, made headlines in 2006 when it was revealed that it cost more than 332 million ($560m) - four times the original budget - to build.

In Britain, foul weather complicated efforts to clean up from a previous storm which hit just before Christmas, lashing the nation with driving rain, causing floods, cutting power and disrupting travel plans for thousands of people.

British energy authorities said yesterday 20,000 people around the country were without power.

The power cuts led to an on-camera confrontation on Friday for Prime Minister David Cameron, who was visiting the flood-hit village of Yalding, in southern England.

A woman accosted him and accused electricity authority staff of going on their Christmas break without ensuring power was turned back on.

France's national weather service raised the flood alert for much of France's northwest on Friday.

The Interior Ministry warned that areas that were flooded in another storm this week could be hit again.

An oil tanker that ran aground off the Moroccan port of Tan Tan during high winds on Monday remained stuck there yesterday. The vessel did not appear to be leaking any of its 5000-tonne cargo.

Meanwhile, residents along Western Australia's northern coast are preparing for a possible cyclone and ships are leaving the area.

A tropical low was forecast to develop into a cyclone last night, bringing 100km/h wind gusts and heavy rain to coastal areas of the Kimberley region.

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a cyclone warning for coastal areas from Cape Leveque to Broome and a cyclone watch alert from Broome to Mardie.

The weather system, north northwest of Broome, is expected to intensify over the weekend as it travels southwest towards the Pilbara coast.

The Port Hedland Port Authority said the Pilbara iron ore export hub was expected to be hit by gales, so port evacuations began yesterday

- AP, AAP

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