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Storm Burglind causes havoc in Switzerland, derails train

A GoldenPass coach came off the rails near Lenk, Canton Bern. Keystone

The passage of storm Burglind across much of Switzerland on Wednesday wreaked a trail of disruption, derailing a train, blocking roads and cancelling flights.

This content was published on January 3, 2018 - 14:18 and agencies

Winds of almost 200km/h (at altitude) and 171km/h (on lower ground) were recorded. In some cantons police have advised citizens only to leave their homes if strictly necessary.

The storm has so far caused most damage in western Switzerland. On Wednesday afternoon, a strong gust derailed a train in the Bernese town of Lenk, injuring eight people. None of the injuries was serious, according to cantonal police.

A powerline fell on the A1 motorway between Oensingen (canton Solothurn) and Bern, leading to several accidents and flipped vehicles (see police photo below) and the complete closure of the road for around two hours.

Solothurn cantonal police

Earlier in the morning, flights at the Franco-Swiss airport of Basel-Mulhouse were suspended for several hours, while Swiss Federal Railways also announced cancellations, including that of the busy tourist route to Jungfraujoch.

Further east, Zurich airport also experienced delays and cancellations due to high winds. Up-to-the-minute information can be found on its website.

In the south, an avalanche threat led to between 20 and 40 people being told to leave the at-risk commune of Conthey in canton Valais. They were informed by text message to evacuate their homes by 10am Wednesday morning.

In the Swiss capital Bern, the 13-metre Christmas tree that adorned the square in front of the main station toppled over (see tweet). Authorities said its removal was in any case planned for Wednesday.

The Federal Office of Meteorology has maintained a weather warning of scale three (out of five). The storm is expected to continue eastwards across the country along the north of the Alps.

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