Violent gales and heavy rains have pummelled swaths of Europe, leaving at least nine people dead in Italy and cutting off roads and electricity, officials said Tuesday.

The death toll in Italy rose after a fireman was killed during rescue operations in the alpine region of South Tyrol, near the Austrian border, and a woman died in the neighbouring province of Trentino.

The fireman was crushed by a falling tree, while search teams pulled the woman's body from the mudslide that hit her home, the ANSA news agency said.

Elsewhere, a kite-surfer died near the Adriatic beach resort of Rimini after strong winds blew him violently against a cliff, ANSA said.

Sea storms in the north-western Liguria region forced the closure of Genoa airport and badly damaged an access road to the tourist resort of Portofino, leaving it cut off from the rest of the region.

 Also on Tuesday, tens of thousands of households in northern Italy were left without electricity and schools were closed as a precaution in several cities, including Rome, Naples and Venice.

 Meanwhile, in south-western France, more than 1,000 people were taken into emergency accommodation overnight after motorists were stranded on snow-bound roads, the departments of Loire and Haute-Loire said.

In the Haute-Loire, 150 police, troops and firefighters were deployed to aid motorists still stuck on the roads on Tuesday morning.

Some 195,000 homes across the country lost power in the storms, electricity network company Enedis said.

To the east, rain and 100-kilometre per hour wind cut off Croatian islands in the Adriatic, closing ferry lines, state TV HRT reported.

Several coastal roads were also closed due to the rainfall, which was at a record level in some areas. In Delnice, in western Croatia, 156 litres of water per square metre were measured within 24 hours.

In Slovenia, the storm knocked down trees and caused minor flooding in places. A red alert remains in some places due to the swelling Drava river, the STA news agency said.

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