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Canary Islands Struggle to Restore Power After Storm

Date: 30-Nov-05
Country: SPAIN
Author: Jonathan Gould

More than 200,000 people remained without electricity after winter storm Delta, packing winds of more than 120 kph (75 mph), brought pylons down on the island of Tenerife on Monday, cutting power to the cities of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and La Laguna.

Crews were sawing up trees that had fallen on to roads and trying to restore service to more than 11,000 phone lines that were cut off, and one in five mobile phone users on Tenerife.

The death toll rose after strong winds blew a man off his roof, which he was apparently trying to repair on the island of Fuerteventura as the storm approached, emergency officials said.

Storm Delta also claimed the lives of six African migrants who drowned off the Canary Islands on Monday as powerful waves swept their makeshift boat.

In the harbour of Agaete on Gran Canaria, the high winds broke off a 20 metre (yard) section of a famous landmark, a rock that juts out of the sea called the "finger of God".

The storm caused disruption for tourists, many from Germany and Britain, who flock to the islands in search of autumn sun.

North Tenerife airport, used by many tourist flights, remained closed on Tuesday and while South Tenerife airport was working, all European flights were cancelled, authorities said.

Some 500 travellers spent the night at Tenerife North airport, which suffered damage to the terminal roof.

Several ports were also closed.

German tourist Jonel Raoul, who spent the night at the beach resort of Maspalomas on Gran Canaria, said strong winds turned beach parasols and chairs into dangerous projectiles.

"About midnight last night we were worried about how long the house was going to hold out given the very loud roaring noise of the wind," he told Reuters.

"Chairs and some umbrellas were flying around. That was really dangerous. They were like flying swords," he said.

Delta, once a tropical storm, was reclassified as a winter storm as it neared Africa on Monday. It was the 25th named cyclone of the busiest Atlantic hurricane season on record.

Reuters correspondent Jonathan Gould, holidaying near Galdar on Gran Canaria, said the storm began on Monday evening with a very strong dry wind that pelted houses with sand and pebbles.

Later, he saw a big flash in the sky -- apparently at an electricity substation -- and all the lights around Galdar went out for about nine hours.

(Additional reporting by Emma Pinedo and Sonya Dowsett)

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