Europe weather: 5 dead, including 2 girls, in Austria storms

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BERLIN — Authorities in Austria say five people, including two children, have died in heavy storms that hit the Alpine country.

Two girls, ages 4 and 8, were killed when sudden strong winds toppled trees late Thursday at a lake in Lavant Valley near the southern city of Graz. Officials said 13 people were injured, two of them seriously. Many of the victims were vacationers visiting the popular tourist region.

Austrian President Alexander Van Der Bellen called the children’s deaths “an unfathomable tragedy.” The mayor of the nearby town of Wolfsberg, Hannes Primus, said the area looked “like a battlefield.”

In Lower Austria, three women were killed when lightning struck a tree near the central town of Gaming, causing it to fall over.

The deaths came at the same time as fierce storms killed at least eight people in France and Italy.

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