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Hurricane-stroms hit UK and Europe

Storm Ciara battered the U.K. and northern Europe with hurricane-level winds and heavy rains that halted flights and trains Sunday and produced heaving seas that closed down ports.

Soccer games, farmers’ markets and other events were canceled as authorities urged millions of people to stay indoors, away from falling tree branches.

At least 10 rail companies in Britain sent out “do not travel” warnings, while nearly 20 others told passengers to expect extensive delays. The strong winds damaged electrical wires and littered train tracks with broken tree limbs and other debris, including a family trampoline.

London’s Heathrow Airport and several airlines consolidated flights Sunday to reduce the number cancelled by heavy winds. British Airways offered to rebook customers for domestic and European flights out of Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports. Virgin Airlines canceled some flights.

Brussels Airport also saw delays or cancellations.

In Ireland, power was knocked to an estimated 10,000 homes, farms and businesses. National weather agency Met Eireann warned that a combination of high tides, high seas and stormy conditions had created a significant risk of coastal flooding, particularly in the west and northwest.

Fierce winds knocked out electricity in northern France as well. Parks and cemeteries in the city of Lille and nearby towns shut down as strong winds cracked heavy branches and threatened to fell trees. Open-air markets also closed early Sunday.

Luxembourg announced that all schoolchildren could stay home Monday as a result of the storm.

In Germany, where the storm is known as “Sabine,” national railway operator Deutsche Bahn canceled long-distance trains to destinations most at risk from the storm, including Emden and Norddeich in Germany’s northwestern corner, the northern city of Kiel and the North Sea island of Sylt.