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13 killed as storm lashes Europe

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High winds and heavy rain lash parts of Britain.
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Great Britain

LONDON, England -- A fierce winter storm packing hurricane force winds that swept across northern Europe has left at least 13 dead several missing, officials said Sunday.

The storm, accompanied by torrential downpours, caused damage in Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Germany before dying out early Sunday.

Six people were reported killed in Sweden after being hit by falling trees and other debris. Four people died in Denmark, two of them in the town of Assens when the roof of a house fell in on them, police said.

In the North Sea city of Logstor, Denmark, authorities reported the highest water level ever in their harbor -- 2.5 meters above normal. Hundreds of people had to evacuate.

The bad weather brought train services to a halt in northern Germany were two canoeists were missing after a strong gust capsized their boat on a lake.

In Britain, the north-western English city of Carlisle was turned into a lake in the worst flooding to hit that region in 40 years. Most access roads were still under water Sunday, cars were left floating along the streets and more than 100,000 residents had to spend the night without electricity.

Military helicopters rescued at least 15 people from the roofs, including a family with a baby and a 90-year-old man. Other residents fled to safety via boat.

A 63-year-old man was killed when a barn blew down, and the bodies of two elderly women were found in flood-affected homes in the city, Cumbria Police said.

The cause of the women's deaths was not immediately known. At least one other person was reported swept away in a swollen river in Yorkshire county, northern England.

Travel on roads, by ship and train were also obstructed. Numerous ferry lines on the North and Baltic seas suspended service, and a ferry grounded off the coast of western Scotland near Cairnryan.

The P&O ferry was finally refloated after more than 30 hours at sea, the coastguard said Sunday.

Two tugs managed to free the European Highlander, with 100 people on board, with the help of the high tide.

High winds from the storm that were clocked at 140 kilometers per hour in Britain, overturned 25 lorries on highways in northern England. Numerous highways and bridges were closed because of the danger.

The storm swept in as northern Germany enjoyed its warmest January night in more than a century with temperatures over 10 Celsius.

Ferries from Rostock, Germany, to Gedser, Denmark, were cancelled in the Baltic but were resumed Sunday morning. The same was true for the ferry line from Sassnitz on the German island of Ruegen to Sweden's Trelleborg.

In the North Sea, ferries between Hirtshals, Denmark, to Larvik, Norway, also remained in their harbors Saturday.

Meanwhile, authorities in Russia's second city, Saint Petersburg, breathed a sigh of relief Sunday after high water levels that threatened the former imperial capital with flooding began to recede.

Alarm bells had rung as water levels in the river Neva rose to within 30 centimeters (12 inches) of the flooding mark of 2.6 meters, causing city officials to close off embankments to traffic and shut down six subway stations.

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