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Clean-up begins after record-breaking storm hits Malta

A massive clean-up operation has begun after record-breaking gale force winds battered the Maltese Islands, leaving a trail of destruction.

Gusts of 101 km/h were recorded on Sunday during one of the wildest weekends Malta has ever seen.

The force of the storm was so strong it resembled an earthquake, according to seismologists at the University of Malta.

Homeowners, businesses, fishermen and farmers have been left to count the cost of the storm, which could run into tens of millions of euros.

Agricultural land was destroyed, rubble walls collapsed, restaurants by the sea were severely damaged and boats were shattered by the waves, wind and hail that battered Malta.

Hundreds of trees were uprooted, cars were smashed, lampposts broken and walls demolished by the strength of the gales.

Malta’s director of cleansing Ray Deguara described the storm as ‘a disaster’.

He added: ‘The problem isn’t just fallen trees that were blocking the roads and had to be removed.

‘There’s now also the trees that have been loosened from their roots, the ones that about to fall, those are a serious problem too.’

A police spokesman told 89.7 Bay that reports of storm damage came in from across the islands but there were no reports of any injuries.

A car was buried under stone blocks that fell onto the road in Zurrieq, seaside food kiosks in St Julian’s and St Paul’s Bay were destroyed, and a statue was damaged after falling from a roof in Hamrun.

Dozens of walls collapsed in Gozo, lampposts along the Sliema promenade were snapped in half, and trees were uprooted in Rabat, Attard, Zejtun, Mellieha, Zabbar, Victoria, Xaghra, Qala, Marsalforn, Zebbug and Qormi.

Transport Malta said the storm had knocked out several sets of traffic lights.

Solar energy panels were ripped from the roof of the Gozo Sports Complex in Victoria by the force of the gales.

Andrea Muscat from Maltese Islands Weather said: ‘The wind was the strongest for many years.

‘A gust of 101 km/h was measured by our weather station in Għarb. That is an all-time record for us.’

He said roads had been ‘turned into a dangerous obstacle course’ with uprooted trees, downed power lines, scattered solar water heaters and smashed walls.

Trees were uprooted in several areas, including on the main Attard to Rabat road where a large tree completely blocked both lanes. It was later removed.

A large tree near the Addolorata Cemetery completely blocked the road as did another near Hompesh Road in Zabbar.

The Malta Marathon, which was due to be held on Sunday morning, was cancelled because of the stormy weather.

The Nadur Carnival, which was planned to start on Sunday afternoon, has been postponed to Thursday.

Gozo Channel ferries were also affected, with services running slightly later than scheduled because of the rough sea between Mgarr and Cirkewwa.

Malta Public Transport told bus passengers to expect delays because of road closures and flooding.

Enemalta said that the storm had damaged parts of its distribution network and warned that restoring electricity to affected areas could take longer than usual.