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Storms wreak havoc in Geneva area

Giant hailstones destroyed vineyards in the Lavaux region Keystone

Violent storms, with gusts of wind of up to 160 kilometres per hour, caused serious damage in the area around Lake Geneva on Monday.

Trees were uprooted, vineyards were destroyed by hail, roofs were torn off, cars were damaged and railway lines were cut during the storms.

Hundreds of firefighters were called into action and five seriously injured people were taken to hospital in Montreux.

Police in Vaud said on Tuesday that eight people had been injured, three seriously, but that their lives were not in danger.

A large part of the grape harvest was destroyed in the Lavaux region, which includes the premier wine-growing slopes between Lausanne and Vevey on the northern shore of Lake Geneva.

Vineyards in Geneva, especially on the left bank of the lake, were also hit by hail.

The Swiss Insurance Association estimated that the cost of repairing the 15,000 cars damaged by the storms would total around SFr60-70 million ($46-54 million).


“In the history of the vineyards we’ve never seen anything like this,” Pierre Monachon, from a winegrowers’ association in canton Vaud, told French-language public radio.

Talking of “apocalyptic” scenes, Monachon said that within five minutes hailstones the size of ping-pong balls had destroyed the entire grape crop in his commune.

Police confirmed that several boats on Lake Geneva had capsized and many trees in the area had been uprooted. One tree fell on the railway lines between St Gingolph and Bouveret in canton Valais, halting the train service.

The rescue services said they had been called out 165 times.

MeteoSwiss, the national weather service, measured winds of 161 kilometres per hour in Bouveret.

The storms in German-speaking Switzerland were less severe, with police in the Bernese Oberland reporting only a few uprooted trees and flooded cellars.

swissinfo with agencies

Gusts of wind on Monday reached 160 kilometres per hour, compared with 131 kilometres per hour during hurricane Lothar in 1999.
Police said eight people were injured, three seriously, but their lives were not in danger.
The entire grape crop was destroyed by hail in Lavaux, where damage was estimated at SFr4 million.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR