Storm snaps power lines, leaves oil rig adrift in Scandinavia

Storm winds, snow and sleet lashed Scandinavia on Wednesday, leaving an oil rig adrift off Norway, disrupting road and rail traffic and knocking out power to thousands in Sweden.

Some 50,000 households lost electricity in southern and central Sweden as the first major snow storm of the season tore down power lines. No injuries were reported.

"It's the wet snow in combination with the strong winds that is causing problems," said Jakob Holmstrom, a spokesman for power company E.ON, which had 11,000 customers without electricity Wednesday.

Norwegian rescue officials said 75 people were adrift on the Bredford Dolphin oil rig in the North Sea after strong winds separated it from a tug boat.

"The tow broke due to heavy weather. It has been drifting during the night, but everything is OK on board," rescue spokesman Eirik Walle said. "The rig and the crew is safe."

A coast guard vessel was on its way to the area, some 180 kilometers (115 miles) off the coast of Norway, to help reattach the tow once the weather calms down, Norwegian news agency NTB reported.

The Swedish capital, Stockholm, woke up to the first snow of the season, which quickly melted as the temperature climbed above the freezing point. Hundreds of drivers lined up at auto shops to change to winter tires.

"It's been a bit too much," Farhan Talabani of Slotts Bilservice, a repair shop outside Stockholm said Wednesday morning. "We've changed tires on about 20 cars already."

State railway operator SJ said train traffic was halted in central and northern Sweden late Tuesday, leaving thousands of people stranded at stations or on trains, reports AP.