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Storms leave trail of damage

Switzerland’s current heatwave was interrupted by locally heavy thunderstorms and strong winds on Saturday afternoon and evening, which left a trail of destruction.

This content was published on July 11, 2010 - 11:54

Rail traffic was disrupted on various lines in different parts of the country. The popular tourist route between Zweisimmen in the Bernese Oberland and Montreux on Lake Geneva was cut by a landslide, while a power cut on the line running south-east from Zurich delayed trains bound for Austria.

About 3,900 flashes of lightning were registered in Lucerne, according to the television weather service, while the Uetliberg above Zurich experienced gusts of wind of up to 124 kilometres per hour.

Lightning strikes caused a number of fires.

Zurich and Lucerne were among the towns and villages reporting flooded streeets and cellars. In various areas of central Switzerland and the Bernese Oberland falling trees damaged vehicles and blocked roads. Some places also experienced brief power cuts.

People had to be rescued when their boats got into difficulty on Lakes Zurich, Geneva and Thun; on Lake Zurich many capsized and some sank. The lake police laid down barriers to prevent oil slicks spreading.

In some places in western and southern Switzerland storms were accompanied by hail.

A flooded river in the village of Château d'Oex in western Switzerland swept away a parked car which ended up buried under three metres of rubble, local police said.

Despite the havoc wrought by the weather, no deaths have been reported.

Temperatures are expected to drop slightly in Switzerland on Sunday, but to remain at between 27 and 30. More thunderstorms are likely.

The weather has been hot in Switzerland for the past two weeks, with the highest temperature so far being just under 35 degrees. However, its neighbours have been even warmer, going up to the high 30s, and in places even hitting 40.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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