At least 17 people have died and hundreds of thousands have been left without electricity by the storms which have ripped across northern Europe. Cars have been overturned, power cables are down, and trees have been uprooted. Ships have been returning to port due to forecasts of hurricane-force winds.

Five people in England and Scotland were killed while driving trucks that were turned over by winds gusting at up to 100 mph. In York a woman was killed when a piece of masonry fell from a church. Power cuts effected around 20,000 homes near the English city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

One man died and a woman was seriously injured when a tree fell on them as they walked on the grounds of a hotel in Scotland. 90,000 Scottish homes were deprived of electricity.

More than 6,000 homes and businesses in Northern Ireland were also left without electricity as 98 mph winds affected power lines.

In Poland, three men were killed when trees fell on their cars, while a woman riding a bicycle died when a lamp post fell on her bicycle.

In the two towns in Germany, men were killed when trees fell on their cars. An elderly woman died near Duesseldorf after being struck by a falling tree. On the German Baltic coast, the wind blew a ferry into a tugboat, and both vessels ran aground.

Airports in Latvia and Lithuania were closed due to the high winds.

In Denmark, residents living on the North Sea coast were evacuated from their homes overnight as the sea level rose, reaching more than 13 feet above its usual level. A bridge linking Denmark with Sweden was also closed due to the high winds.

Nearly 100,000 homes in Sweden were left without electricity when power cables came down in the storms, and dozens of houses lost their roofs. In Scandinavia, many roads and mountain passes stayed closed for days.

Scientists predict that extreme winter rainfall will become five times more likely over parts of northern Europe within the next 50 to 100 years, due to global warming.

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