Cyclone Leslie slams into Portugal, leaves 27 injured


Hurricane Leslie churned across the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday heading toward Portugal and Spain, with forecasters saying the storm will bring heavy rain, high winds and risky surf to western parts of the Iberian Peninsula.

Luis Belo Costa of Portugal's National Protection Agency, who gave the injury toll, said none of the injuries were life-threatening.

Aveiro, Viseu and Porto in the north also suffered damage with rescue services reporting a total of 1,900 incidents.

Forecasters said sections of Portugal will see near hurricane-force winds, while parts of western Spain are expected to be hit with tropical storm-force winds.

In Spain, winds of up to 100 km/h uprooted trees in the center of the country early on Sunday morning.

Hurricane Leslie had formed on 23 September but was downgraded to a tropical storm before it made landfall.

The storm is expected to become a post-tropical cyclone and dissipate by Sunday night or Monday.

At Mealhada, in Aveiro district, the roof blew off an indoor sports stadium putting an end to the European final of the women's roller hockey competition. Authorities had urged people to stay indoors and keep away from coastal areas.

But state broadcaster RTP said Leslie's wind speeds reached 170 kph in the coastal town of Figueira da Foz, 200 kilometers north of Lisbon. The main A1 motorway was among the roads temporarily blocked.

More than 15,000 homes were reported to be without power, while several flights to and from Lisbon were cancelled.

The storm was one of the most powerful to ever hit the country. Only five are on record, including Hurricane Ophelia whose air mass fueled forest fires in Portugal and Spain in 2017.