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Norway’s most powerful storm in 30 yrs wreaks havoc, top wind speed at 196 kph



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

Boats sway in the harbour as waves batter a dock during Storm Ingunn in Bodo, Norway (via REUTERS)

Hurricane-force winds hit parts of the Scandinavian country with gusts of up to 180 kilometers (112 miles) per hour. 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.

The Norwegian Meteorological Institute said a new national wind speed record of 195.8 kilometers per hour (121.7 miles per hour) was measured early Thursday on the island of Soemma.

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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 avalanche warnings.

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.

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

”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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