German rail stops trains in half of country due to storms

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BERLIN, Feb 17 (Reuters) - German national railway company Deutsche Bahn (DBN.UL) said it has stopped long-distance train services in seven out of the country's 16 states after Storm Ylenia slammed northern Germany in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The affected federal states are Lower Saxony, Bremen, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Brandenburg and Berlin, though most other states are also affected, Deutsche Bahn said on Thursday.

"Some long-distance trains end and begin well before the affected states," the company said in a statement.

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By 1230 GMT, gale-force winds had caused one casualty, who died in a car after a tree collapsed on to a country road near the town of Bad Bevensen in Lower Saxony, local police said, confirming a report in the Bild newspaper.

The German Meteorological Service (DWD) said in a tweet it had recorded a wind speed of 152 kilometres per hour (94 mph) on the highest peak of the Harz mountain range in northern Germany at 0000 GMT.

The storms also caused a spate of power cuts across the country. According to the Stoerungsauskunft website that partners with German energy suppliers to collect data about current outages, more than 170 towns and cities were affected at 1230 GMT.

In Germany's most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the power cuts affected around 50,000 households according to a statement on the official website of the region's Borken district.

Schools in some states, including NRW, were closed on Thursday.

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Reporting by Zuzanna Szymanska; Editing by Toby Chopra, Kirsten Donovan

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