The National:

LUXEMBOURG is starting the clean-up process after a devastating tornado injured 19 people, two of them seriously, and wrecked dozens of homes in the south of the country at the weekend.

One person remains in a critical condition in hospital after apparently suffering a heart attack during the tornado.

Tornadoes are very rare in Europe, so the extent of the damage caused to Luxembourg had shocked many residents.

The prime minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, cut short his holiday and pledged immediate aid to those affected by the tornado, described by the country’s equivalent of the Met Office as a “once in a decade” storm.

Bettel and other Government ministers have visited the area and thanked the emergency services and volunteers who came to the aid of those affected by the tornado, which was calculated to have had a windspeed of 160mph.

With a population about the same size as Glasgow, Luxembourg is at the centre of the European Union and offers of assistance came from other EU members, but the Luxembourg government is confident that it can handle the clean-up and repair jobs that are already under way.

The local newspaper Tageblatt said damage has been reported at 314 buildings and around 80 homes were inhabitable due to the tornado, which struck the towns of Petange and Kaerjeng, near the border with France and Belgium.

Almost as soon as the tornado disappeared, a crisis unit was set up by the Luxembourg government, and some applications for financial aid have already been processed with many others in the pipeline.

Local estimates say around 100 homes have been damaged and are uninhabitable. Most will need to be repaired while some of them will need to be demolished.

Prime Minister Bettel tweeted to his citizens: “We’re ready to take on responsibility. We will not leave anyone out in the rain.”

Iceland maps out its unique Viking heritage

THE remains of three buildings thought to be around 1000-years-old have been found on Iceland as part of the successful drive to map out an important area in the nation’s Viking history.

The National: Viking building remains were discovered at HofstaðirViking building remains were discovered at Hofstaðir

Archaeological remains of the three buildings were discovered at Hofstaðir in the North of Iceland.  The site, located in the Mývatn area, contained both medieval and Viking age artefacts.

Iceland Review (IR) reported that a banqueting hall and a cemetery had been previously found at the site.  IR reported: “A new farmstead with a large longhouse was uncovered in 2016, leading to the decision to map the area in more detail. That mapping helped lead to the newest discovery of the three buildings.”

The excavation is being led by professor of archaeology Orri Vésteinsson of the University of Iceland.

He told IR that further on-site research is needed to determine the function of the buildings, which will first and foremost require funding and careful planning.

Hofstaðir is famous in Iceland for the wealth of archaeological finds that have taken place at what was once a Viking settlement – and scientists admit they do not know what else will be found on the site which is being carefully mapped inch by inch.

IR reported: “There are various hypotheses as to how work and life were organised at the rediscovered settlement, though evidence points to the site hosting both political and social activities.  “Interestingly, the area contained both a lodge that hosted pagan ceremonies and a Christian church, which stood side by side for several decades.  Vésteinsson said: “This gives an indication that the conversion (to Christianity) may have taken longer and been more complex than we  had imagined.”

Lithuanian cheese gets PGI status from the EU     

ONE thing that the European Union can do for small countries is give their food and drink products some protection from fakes.

Known as Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and supervised by the European Commission (EC), the latest award of the coveted status has gone to Lithuanian cheese brand Džiugas.

The National: Certified: Džiugas cheeseCertified: Džiugas cheese

The EC announced the award in a tweet: “Džiugas PGI is a hard cheese produced around the city of Telšia, in the northwest of Lithuania.

“We have registered it as a new Protected Geographical Indication.”  The award comes just as a No-Deal Brexit threatens the PGI status of many Scottish food and drink products such as Stornoway Black Pudding, Arbroath Smokies and even Scotch whisky.

One of the reasons the Lithuanian cheese gained PGI status is the time it takes to mature.

According to the manufacturers, Džiugas has a trademark flavour that is easy to recognise at every stage of maturity. They stated: “The different stages or ages at which it is sold are: ‘mild’ (over 12 months), ‘piquant’ (over 18 months), ‘delicate’ (over 24 months) and ‘gourmet’ (over 36 months-old).

“As the cheese ages and ripens, the quality and flavour is improved and the characteristic taste deepens and develops.”

According to website, Džiugas “is delicious as a cheese-board cheese as well as an ingredient when grated or shaved. It adds depth of flavour to salads, bakes or sauces. Džiugas is available as a grated cheese in re-sealable packs that preserve the quality of the product.”