BARCELONA, Spain – Part of a sports center collapsed in high winds Saturday in the northern Spanish city of Barcelona, killing four children and injuring 16 other people, officials and witnesses said.
Freak winds gusting to 100 mph in some places caused at least six other deaths in Spain and France, officials said.
Emergency workers at the Barcelona sports center could be seen putting three children's bodies into ambulances and pulling another 16 injured children from the rubble before the rescue effort ended. Accident investigators arrived on the scene to take photographs and carry out other attempts to document the cause of the collapse.
A fourth child died in Sant Joan de Deu hospital, a regional government official said on condition of anonymity as required by agency rules. Three other children were in serious condition and the other injured people, including two adult baseball coaches, were either lightly injured or already released from hospital, the official said.
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A woman who said she had seen the accident told Spanish national broadcaster TVE that the children were preparing to play on a baseball field in the Sant Boi de Llobregat suburb when they took shelter under a viewing stand with a corrugated metal roof.
A woman died when a wall fell on her elsewhere in Barcelona and a traffic officer was killed by a falling tree in northwest Galicia. A road worker died in the northwest village of La Palma de Cervello due to a falling tree, a man was crushed to death by a falling wall in the eastern city of Alicante and a fisherman died after being rescued from a sinking boat in northwestern port city of La Coruna.
A powerful storm also lashed southwestern France, with the state-run electricity provider reporting about a million homes without power and rail authorities halting traffic in the region.
The government office in France's Landes region announced the first death in France linked to the storm — a driver whose car was crushed by a falling tree, the regional prefecture said.
Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie announced that an additional 715 civil security agents would be deployed in the region — on top of the 300 usually there, and that she plans to fly over the area Sunday once the high winds are over.
Prime Minister Francois Fillon, speaking at a meeting of the governing conservatives in Paris, said his thoughts turned "our countrymen in the south of our country who are now facing a very serious storm."
Rescue teams fanned out as heavy rain and winds of up to 109 mph pounded the coast south of Bordeaux, while the city faced winds of up to 99 mph.
French TV showed images including downed power cables, uprooted trees lying across roads, a car crushed under a collapsed wall, and a traffic-light post that toppled over.
In Bordeaux's Gironde region, rescuers evacuated 19 residents of a retirement home after its rooftop was swept away. Authorities also evacuated campers from the pine forests in the sandy Landes region to the south.
All flights in Bordeaux and Toulouse were temporarily halted, and authorities in the region ordered a halt to tractor-trailer and tour bus traffic. The national railway operator stopped trains throughout the area.
Authorities in Toulouse ordered public parks shut. Some ski slopes in the south of the affected area were closed. France's national meteorological service said no letup was expected before mid-afternoon Saturday.