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Fierce winds hit northern Nordic region

January 31, 1997

HELSINKI, Finland (AP) _ Record wind of up to 100 mph and heavy snow tore through northern Scandinavia and Finland on Friday, downing trees and power lines _ but giving some taxpayers a reprieve.

The deadline for Finnish tax returns was Friday, but authorities gave residents of the Lapland region several days reprieve because of the weather.

In Hammerfest, on the northern tip of Norway, 30 houses were evacuated and bridges were closed when a hurricane-force storm hit the coast Thursday night.

In northern Sweden, fallen trees blocked roads and dozens of towns and villages lost power.

Flights in the region were canceled, and weather officials warned of storms in the Baltic Sea.

``We’ve got all our snowplows out,″ said Ulla Karhunen of the Lapland Road Works Department. ``But some of the them are stuck in the snow and are blocking the road to Norway.″

One person was killed in Lapland and three were seriously injured when a car crashed into the back of another vehicle whose driver had been blinded by an oncoming snowplow.

At Kittila, 600 miles north of Helsinki, the meteorological office measured Finland’s strongest winds ever, 100 mph.

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