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Norway faces most powerful storm in over 30 years



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Norway’s most powerful storm in more than three decades raged Thursday, ripping off roofs and cutting power.

Hurricane-force winds hit parts of the Scandinavian country with gusts of up 180 km/h. Near Laerdal, a small, picturesque town northeast of Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city, a bus with 14 passengers was blown off a road early Thursday, though no injuries were reported, police said.

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Some areas were flooded, and airlines and ferry operators suspended service. There were scattered reports of closed schools, roads, tunnels and bridges on Wednesday and Thursday.

Hurricane-strength gusts were also reported overnight in Sweden. The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute issued a red warning, its highest alert, for the western part of the Norrbottens district, which borders Norway.

The storm, named Ingunn by Norwegian meteorologists, landed in central Norway on Wednesday afternoon before moving north Thursday. The Meteorological Institute issued a red warning for the Arctic region and several warnings for avalanches in the region.

Windows were blown out in a hotel in Bodoe, a town in Nordland district, police said. Downtown Bodoe was later sealed off because “there is a danger to life and health,” they said.

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The University Hospital of North Norway said its roof antenna was damaged in Harstad town on Norway’s largest island, Hinnoeya. Photos in Norwegian media showed a helicopter landing pad littered with debris.

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“Roof tiles are flying everywhere throughout the town and visibility is poor,” the town’s spokesperson, Øivind Arvola, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK. Local police confirmed debris was flying around.

Bjørnar Gaasvik, a police spokesperson in the Troendelag region, told Norwegian news agency NTB that the public safety agency received between 40 and 50 reports overnight from people affected by the storm and more were expected Thursday.

Sigmund Clementz of IF insurance told Norwegian newspaper VG that it was too early to estimate the cost of the storm damage.

In Denmark to the south, the Storebaelt bridge linking two major Danish islands was closed to vehicles with light trailers because of strong winds.

The storm hit the same area as a 1992 New Year’s hurricane, one of the strongest storms in Norway’s history, the newspaper VG said.

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