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Storms in France injure dozens and kill woman on school run

Violent winds and winter storms have hit France, killing a 43-year-old woman taking her children to school and injuring nearly 50 other people.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Vatican sheltered homeless people in a church from unusually cold weather in Rome.

The woman killed in the hills above the southern French city of Nice was hit on the head as a tall Cypress tree snapped in a powerful gust as she left her house to take her children to school, said Lt Col Dominique Blasius, of the Alpes-Maritimes region.

"This happened in front of her children," he said.

The children called their father, who used a chainsaw to try to free his wife from the fallen tree, but she was already dead when a fire crew arrived, Lt Col Blasius said.

In northern France, strong winds blew a tree on to tracks between Paris and Brussels, stranding passengers on a high-speed Thalys train.

The 210 passengers spent the night without electricity, heat or liquids. The track was subsequently cleared.

France's interior ministry said nearly 50 people were injured overnight in weather-related accidents, although none seriously.

The worst-hit areas included Normandy and Picardy where, respectively, 76,000 homes and 61,000 homes were without electricity on Friday.

Emergency services were called out more than 4,040 times to deal with the storms' impact.

In Rome, night-time temperatures have dropped below freezing.

The Vatican said around 30 people - both Italians and foreigners - had accepted an invitation to sleep inside St Calixtus Church, which is Vatican property.

Inside the church's cold stone interior, the homeless kept warm with sleeping bags, blankets and electric heaters.

AP

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