Storm leaves three dead and 280,000 without power

At least two people have died in as a result of hurricane winds that battered southern Sweden on Sunday. Over 270,000 households faced power cuts while traffic on land and at sea was brought to a standstill.

One man in his 60s died when the car he was travelling in was hit by a falling tree near Forserum, said police in Jönköping county. A woman who was travelling with him was slightly injured in the accident, which happened at around 1pm.

In Motala a nine year old boy died after a tree fell on him at around midday. The boy was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

During the afternoon a man aged 25 was badly injured when the light van he was driving on a road near Ullared in Halland was hit by a falling tree. The man, who was alone in the truck, died later in hospital in Varberg.

By 8pm on Sunday over 280,000 households were without electricity, primarily in southern Sweden, Småland and Västra Götaland. But many also had power cuts in Värmland and Östergötland, Around 163,000 of those affected were Eon’s customers in the south of the country.

Sweden’s power companies had staff on standby throughout the morning but they were unable to get out because of the harsh conditions. Households without electricity could face a long wait before being reconnected.

“It’s too dangerous to go out into the forest to find and fix faults while the storm is ongoing. We cannot risk the safety of our staff,” said Eon spokesman Johan Aspegren.

At 3pm Vattenfall was able to begin repair work on its network in Dalsland, albeit on a limited scale.

Around 37,000 households in southern and western Sweden were without their fixed-line telephone connections on Sunday afternoon, said Telia.

The storm, which has been named Per by the Norwegian weather agency, hit Sweden from the west on Sunday morning. On Hanö, an island off the coast of Blekinge, the wind speed reached a peak of 40 metres per second, or 144 kilometres per hour, at around 2pm.

“That’s very unusual in Sweden. I don’t think we’ve had such high figures since ‘Gudrun’ in January 2005,” said meteorologist Jonas Höglund at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI).

On the west coast a top wind speed of 39m/s was measured on Måseskär, outside Orust. However, the storm had started to weaken there by 2pm.

In eastern Sweden the storm is expected to reach its peak late on Sunday afternoon or early in the evening.

Traffic in Per’s path has been badly affected. In Västra Götaland and Halland almost all transport was cancelled from the morning. At lunchtime Banverket, which controls Sweden’s rail network, decided to cancel all train traffic in Västra Götaland, Halland, Småland, Blekinge and Skåne until 6pm.

Many ferries have also been cancelled on a number of different routes, including from the Swedish mainland to Gotland, Denmark’s Frederikshavn and Sassnitz in Germany.

Two planes which should have landed at Gothenburg City Airport carrying passengers from Budapest and Warsaw were diverted to Stockholm Skavsta due to the storm.

Several rural bus routes in Västra Götaland also cancelled journeys.

Trees have been strewn across roads in many parts of the south of the country. On the E6 motorway south of Mölndal a line of signs blew onto the road at 2.30pm, stopping all northbound traffic.