Wind Storm Hits, 1 Sailor Feared Dead

Strong winds battered the coasts of the Netherlands early this morning marking the third major storm to hit the country this year. High winds and a sudden, large wave is believed to be the cause of an accident where a Russian seaman was swept overboard on a ship operated by Dutch firm Wagenborg. He has not been found.

Wind damage at PSV Eindhoven Stadium (Raymond Vermeer/Twitter)

The ship, Victoriaborg, was 220 km (137 miles) west of Brest, France, in the Celtic Sea when a 10-meter-high wave unexpectedly struck the vessel at 14:00 on Monday, said Wagenborg spokesman Albert Engelsman. 56-year-old Alexander Merkulov was the only crew member missing after the incident. "Nobody gave the order to the men to go on deck. I think he was taken by surprise when the huge wave hit," Engelsman said.

The French Coast Guard coordinated a five-hour search effort with support provided by an airplane, but the man was not found. It is the third Wagenborg crew member in a month thought to have died after going overboard. Two Filipino sailors near Sweden are also believed to have died when they went overboard during a storm.

In the Netherlands, No major damage has been reported, but metal sheeting was blown off PSV Eindhoven's football stadium, and damage to the roof of a theatre in Katwijk led to the cancellation of performances of the musical Soldaat van Oranje. A Christmas circus performance in The Hague was also cancelled.

Winds up to 100 km/h (62 mph) hit the North Sea coast and the IJsselmeer lake between Noord-Holland and Friesland, with winds inland hitting 80 km/h (50 mph).
In IJmuiden, winds peaked at 115 km/h (71 mph). The wind storm was expected to blow over by 10:00am with only passing rain.

KNMI, the official meteorological agency in the Netherlands, assigned a code yellow warning for the Force 10 winds. Warnings were also issued to rush hour commuters the day before Christmas.