Paris - Snow and gales hit France and Switzerland over the weekend, possibly leading to the death of a homeless man in Paris, while searches continued for a missing windsurfer and a 12-year-old British boy who vanished Saturday in the south of France while cycling in a gale.
His bicycle is reported to have been found but there are fears he was swept away by strong winds.
Freezing temperatures killed three men in their fifties in Poland. Quoted by the Polish press agency PAP, police said that two of them had been under the influence of alcohol, and the third man was said to be homeless.
The homeless man, a 59-year-old former foreign legionnaire well-known in the neighbourhood and said to be in poor health, was found dead in northern Paris where temperatures dipped to near zero degrees Celsius instead of the usual seasonal seven degrees Celsius. He was thought to have died from the cold.
Gale-force winds lashed southern France, damaging a ferry off Marseille which slipped its anchor and hit a quay. The hull was holed and two watertight compartments flooded. The ship has a 15-degree list while waiting to be righted.
Almost 30 000 households in the south of France were without power.
In Switzerland, trees were toppled by high winds, rail services were interrupted and the emergency services received hundreds of calls as winter made an early appearance.
Almost 10cm of snow fell in some parts late on Saturday night. Many drivers failed to anticipate the onset of winter and fit appropriate tyres and there were scores of accidents in the canton of Bern alone in a 24-hour period, though no serious casualties were reported. - Sapa-AFP