Radio Sandwell News

Four die as storm hits southern UK

2013-10-28 18:45:39

The Environment Agency is warning of the risk of coastal flooding caused by strong winds and large waves in the wake of the storm

Four people have died after a storm battered southern Britain, leading to 600,000 homes losing power, rail and flight cancellations.

A teenager in Kent and a man in Watford were killed by falling trees.

A man and a woman died in west London after a falling tree caused a suspected gas explosion and house collapse.

Network Rail said the damage to railway lines had been "worse than expected", with more than 100 trees on the lines, but some train services had resumed.

The strongest gust of 99mph (159km/h) was recorded on the Isle of Wight.

Bethany Freeman
Bethany Freeman was staying in a building
adjacent to her family home

BBC forecasters say the storm has now ended in the UK - leaving a "broadly windy day".

Bethany Freeman, 17, suffered fatal injuries when the tree came down where she was sleeping in Edenbridge, at about 07:20 GMT.

Ch Supt Steve Corbishly from Kent Police said: "She was in a static home adjoining the house she lives in with her family. Tragically, she did die at the scene. It's not being treated as suspicious but we're working with Fire and Rescue to determine the exact cause."

A man in his 50s was pronounced dead at the scene after a tree crushed a red Peugeot 307 at Lower High Street in Watford, Hertfordshire, at 6:50 GMT.

Mark Joseph, who was passing by before the emergency services arrived, said: "We tried to assist, trying to get the tree off, but it was impossible... The poor chap didn't stand a chance."

Jeremy Cooke reports: "The storm was brief but
powerful and intense... with tragic consequences"

The Environment Agency had dozens of flood warnings in place - in areas of south-west England, East Anglia and the Midlands where flooding was expected, but the number is now down to four. There are also more than 100 flood alerts, where flooding is possible, across England and Wales.

It says there is an increased risk of flooding from rivers following the heavy rainfall, and large waves and strong winds may continue to cause some minor coastal flooding along the south coast.

The Energy Networks Association, which represents power companies across the UK, confirmed 200,500 homes were still without power.

A spokesman said 407,000 households which lost power earlier had been reconnected, but more had been cut off as the storm moved north and eastwards.

Network Rail said several hundred staff have been working to monitor conditions and react to any damage.

Three houses collapsed and two others were damaged in a suspected gas explosion in west London

The 17-year-old girl suffered fatal injuries when the tree crushed the caravan

Passengers wait on concourse at King's Cross station after train services were cancelled

Workers have cleared the track at Alton in Hampshire, as this picture tweeted by South West Trains shows

Hundreds of trees fell across the country

Robin Gisby, Network Rail's managing director of network operations, said: "While conditions were as forecast during the early part of the morning, the damage caused by the storm has been more severe than expected as it has tracked eastwards to the north of London and across to East Anglia."

Anthony Smith, chief executive of rail customer watchdog Passenger Focus, said it was "too early to tell if the industry made the right call when cancelling so many services, but the fact that major incidents have been avoided is good news".

Prime Minister David Cameron said the deaths caused by the storm were "hugely regrettable".

Asked whether train companies had over-reacted, he said: "These are difficult things to handle because you don't know for certain just how strong the storm will be."

In other developments:

  • The man and women who died in west London were found after three houses collapsed and two others were damaged following a gas explosion caused by a fallen tree on Bath Road in Hounslow, the London Fire Brigade said. Three people escaped before firefighters arrived and an elderly woman was taken to hospital
  • Coastguards say they will not resume the search for the 14-year-old boy - who has been named as Dylan Alkins - who was swept away in Newhaven, East Sussex on Sunday
  • A double-decker bus "rolled over" in Suffolk, injuring the driver and several passengers. Witnesses told police the vehicle blew over at 08:00 GMT, rolling onto its side and coming to a stop in a field in Hadleigh
  • Both reactors in Dungeness power station's B units have been automatically shut down after power to the site was cut off. The site's own generators are providing power to the site
  • The Metropolitan Police says it received 792 calls to its 101 and 999 numbers between 06:00 and 08:00 GMT, compared with the 200 it would normally expect. The most common call was for "tree in road"
  • Sussex Police say 125 trees have fallen across Sussex - including one on a taxi in Eastbourne, from which the driver climbed out uninjured
  • The helter-skelter at Clacton Pier in Essex has blown down, but the structure has not fallen into the sea
  • London Mayor Boris Johnson has chaired an emergency resilience meeting involving all emergency services and relevant agencies - and later made a statement thanking them for their hard work "dealing with one of the fiercest storms of the last few years"
  • Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has cancelled his monthly press conference because of a crane collapsed on the roof of the Cabinet Office

The driver and a passenger were hurt when this bus blew over in Suffolk

A crane collapsed on the roof of the Cabinet Office in central London

The weather has damaged construction work on the hangar at Bournemouth airport

Other travel warnings include:

  • South West Trains says it is hoping to gradually get services back to normal as conditions ease
  • East Coast has no trains running south of Peterborough due to flooding in the tunnel at Potters Bar, and trees on the line at Barnet and Hertford.
  • First Great Western says it is running services on most routes, with delays and alterations
  • Virgin West Coast is starting to run limited services out of Euston
  • First Capital Connect has started to resume services with trains now running between Cambridge and King's Lynn and Bedford and Luton. But no trains from St Pancras will be operated on Monday. C2C said services are suspended until further notice. A reduced service is running on Greater Anglia but Stansted Express services remain suspended. Southern and Gatwick Express said the Brighton mainline has now been cleared of trees and services will resume
  • London Overground is operating a limited service with severe delays, while Southeastern is operating a limited service on some lines but says most of its lines do not have services
  • Transport for London (TfL) said there was disruption due to debris from the storm on the tracks with the Bakerloo and District lines suffering severe delays
  • Meanwhile, Chiltern Railways, which earlier said it was hoping to run a near normal timetable, has cancelled services
  • Airports including Heathrow and Gatwick are warning of possible disruption to flights, advising passengers to check with airlines
  • Gatwick Airport reports seven cancellations
  • Although Dover port was reopened, P&O Ferries warned of delays of up to two hours on some sailings
  • Both the Severn crossings are now open, but flooding is still affecting roads in Wales
  • The A249 Sheppey Crossing in Kent and the Queen Elizabeth II bridge on the M25 have both reopened. The Tamar Bridge which joins Cornwall and Devon has reopened
  • The Highways Agency is advising motorists to check the weather forecast and road conditions before they travel

The Met Office said a gust of 99mph (159km/h) was recorded at Needles Old Battery, Isle of Wight, at 05:00 GMT.

BBC weather forecasters said in more populous areas including Lyneham, near Swindon; Yeovilton in Somerset and Hurn, near Bournemouth, speeds of 74-75mph (119-121km/h) had been recorded.

It has released figures showing the strongest winds and heaviest rainfall during the storm - with Otterbourne in Hampshire receiving 50mm of rain.

Wind speeds of 115 mph were recorded during the so-called Great Storm of October 1987.


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