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St. Jude storm leaves 200,000 in blackout in Baltic states

October 29, 2013, 15:49 UTC+3

Police had to prevent several looting attempts

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RIGA, October 29 (Itar-Tass) - St. Jude's Day storm which battered Latvia last night has left some 120,000 people in blackout. Power supply was fully paralyzed to Ventspils, Kuldiga and Talsi in the west of Latvia, according to the LatvEnergy company. The three cities have no power supply yet to enterprises and residential areas; fueling stations do not operate there, street and traffic lights are off. Power supply to hospitals and strategic enterprises was ensured by means of reserve power generators.

The storm caused the local administration to limit navigation at the Liepaja, Ventspils and Riga sea ports.

Ventspils was left completely without electricity. The local police had to actively prevent several looting attempts, said Linda Rudzroga, chairman of the Ventspils parliament.

The wind force rose to 30 meters per second in the west of Latvia last night. In Riga, it was 24 meters per second. The winds have been subsiding now, but the weather remains pretty rough still.

The storm also caused delays in train schedules in a number of areas, but Riga airport has been operating to schedule.

The storm has provoked the spread of the flames in the peat bogs in the Jelgava region 60 kilometers off Riga. The fire has spread to a territory of around 1,000 square meters. Heavy smoke in that area has impeded measuring the exact territory swept by fire.

Over the past 24 hours the Latvian Fire Service had been summoned 137 times at least. Most of the summons ( around 100) came from Riga. Fire brigades had been summoned almost every minute on Tuesday morning as people on the way to their work places could see what was going on. Many people informed about removed advertisement billboards and broken trees, damaged roofs and window glass smashed out by the wind. Traffic lights are off in many places in Riga. Reports about casualties were not immediately available.

When the St. Jude's Day storm reached Estonia it had already lost some of its destructive force. Nevertheless, it was enough to cause a blackout in 63,000 households. Territories in the west of Estonia were the worst hit. In some places the storm caused serious damage to energy transmission lines; therefore, power supply to that areas might be resumed only in a week's time, said Taivo Tymme, an expert of the Electricity company which had declared an emergency regime in its structures.

The Estonian Rescue department said that its workers had been summoned 100 times throughout last night. The rescuers had to remove broken trees from motorways and energy transmission lines; the wind swept off a roof from a school gym in Paida; in Kuressaar, the wind damaged part of the roof of a five-storied building.

The storm has barely touched Lithuania with its wing, but even that was enough to paralyze power supply to 8,500 people. Coastal areas in the west of Lithuania were the worst hit by the storm. In Klaipeda, a small ship 24 meters long had its mooring cable broken. The ship had been battered against a stone mooring berth until rescuers secured the ship in its place. A maximum wind force when wind gusts hit Klaipeda sea port was 29 meters per second.

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