Imagine 124 MPH wind-gusts in Paris?!


Paris, France (CNN) -- Western Europe was dealing with the aftermath of violent weather Monday after a winter storm dubbed "Xynthia" battered at least six countries, leaving at least 58 people dead, authorities said.

Hardest hit was France, where at least 47 people were killed, according to the Interior Ministry.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited the departments of Charente-Maritime and Vendee on the nation's west coast Monday, where the extra-tropical cyclone hit.

"It's a national catastrophe," French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Sunday. "Many people drowned, surprised by the rapid rise of the water."

The combination of hurricane-force winds and high tide inundated parts of the coastal region.

"It was rushing in, it broke down the walls around the garden and the gate," a resident of Aiguillon-Sur-Mer, in the department of Vendee, told CNN affiliate BFM-TV.

Hundreds of people had to be rescued from their rooftops overnight.

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"The water was up to the gutters," said one woman, who spent the night on the roof with her children.

By Monday rescuers in boats and helicopters continued to search to find the missing in homes overrun by flooding, Agence France-Press said.

Residents of the village of Aytre, in Charente-Maritime, saw a wave of water measuring one-meter high come into the center of town.

"It was unreal," Aytre Mayor Suzanne Tallard told BFM-TV.

At least 500,00 households were without power Monday morning, said Electricite de France. The utility said all power should be restored by Wednesday.

President Sarkozy said he was making 3 million ($4 million) of emergency funds available for the victims and promised that electricity would be restored by Tuesday, AFP reported. The agency added that the European Union was ready to offer support for the countries affected.

French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux told the affiliate that 350 soldiers and 3,250 firefighters have been mobilized to assist in the aftermath.

The high winds -- at times spiking to 200 km/h (124 mph) -- reached inland as far as Paris. Gusts of up to 175 km/h (108 mph) were measured at the top of the Eiffel Tower on Saturday, said Eboni Deon, CNN meteorologist .

As many as 100 flights were canceled at the Paris-Charles de Gaulle International Airport on Sunday because of the blustery conditions, the affiliate reported. All major French airports were back to normal schedules Monday.

A the storm's peak, Hurricane-strength winds stretched from Portugal northeast to the Netherlands.

The storm killed five people in Germany, officials said. Four of them died after being hit by falling trees. A fifth, a 2-year-old boy near the town of Biblis, drowned when he was blown into a river.

Train service was slowly returning to normal in Germany on Monday after massive disruptions and a partial shutdown of services in the states of North Rhine-Westfalia, Baden-Wuerttemberg, and Hesse a day earlier, railway Deutsche Bahn reported.

Crews spent the overnight hours clearing tracks of debris.

In Spain, at least three people were killed by the storm, Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said Sunday. Two children died in a car accident and one more person was killed in northwestern Spain, the minister said in a news conference on CNN sister station CNN+.

A 10-year-old child was killed by a falling tree in the high winds in Portugal, said Patricia Gaspar, national operations assistant with the Portuguese National Authority for Civil Protection.

There are also some power outages in the country, Gaspar said. Some residents have reported roofs blown off and smaller houses collapsing, she added.

A man was killed by a falling tree in Belgium, Peter Mertens, a spokesman for Belgium's Interior Ministry, said.

Eastern Belgium saw the worst of the storm, Mertens said.

"They've had problems with fallen trees, roofs blown off and electricity cables not working. But it seems the worst part has passed now," he added.

The storm also reached England, where one woman was reported dead when the vehicle she was driving became submerged and washed down a swollen creek in the northeastern part of the country.

The body of the 53-year-old woman was recovered downstream, North Yorkshire Police said in a phone message to the media.