28 October, 2013

Four die as storm hits southern UK

Four die as storm hits southern UK

The strongest gust of 99mph (159km/h) was recorded at Needles Old Battery, Isle of Wight

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Four people have died after a storm battered southern Britain, leading to 625,000 homes losing power, rush-hour disruption on trains, flight and ferry 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.

Rail companies started to run reduced services later and say operations will be back to normal on Tuesday.

BBC forecasters say the storm, which began overnight and saw heavy rain fall across many areas and wind speeds of more than 70mph, moved out of the UK shortly after 12:00 GMT - leaving a "broadly windy day".

The strongest gust of 99mph (159km/h) was recorded at Needles Old Battery, Isle of Wight, at 05:00 GMT.
Bethany Freeman was staying in a caravan next to her family home

Travel disruption includes:
South West Trains is running a severely reduced service
There is a limited number of East Coast trains running south of Peterborough
Virgin West Coast is starting to run limited services out of Euston
First Capital Connect has started to resume services but says the London to Luton will be closed all day
C2C said some train services have resumed but major disruption remains
A reduced service is running on Greater Anglia butStansted Express services remain suspended
Southern and Gatwick Express said the Brighton mainline has now been cleared of trees and services are running on temporary timetable
Southeastern is operating a limited service on all routes, except for the Deal and Dover, Bat and Ball and Sevenoaks, Eynsford and Shoreham, and Otford and Maidstone East lines
First Great Western is running services on most routes, but with delays and alterations
Chiltern Railways is running a normal service but says there may be some delays and short notice cancellations
The Severn crossings re-opened, but flooding is still affecting roads in Wales where engineers are assessing a landslip on the A466 in Tintern
The Highways Agency is advising motorists to check the weather forecast and road conditions before they travel

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

The caravan was next to the house she lived in with her family and she had been sleeping there while renovations were carried out.

Donal Drohan, 51, from Harrow, 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."

The man and women who died in west London were found after three houses collapsed and two others were damaged following a gas explosion after a tree fell during high winds in Hounslow, the London Fire Brigade said. Three people injured in the incident were taken to hospital.

Power restored

The Energy Networks Association, which represents power companies across the UK, confirmed 166,000 homes were still without power by 17:00 GMT.
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The fact that major incidents have been avoided is good news”Anthony SmithPassenger Focus
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A spokesman said 459,000 households that lost power earlier had been reconnected, but more had been cut off as the storm moved north and eastwards.

BBC News correspondent Duncan Kennedy, reporting from Berkshire, said engineers have had trouble reaching some of the more remote areas because of fallen trees and it could be some days before power supplies are restored to all locations.

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

Several hundred staff have been working to monitor conditions and react to damage.

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".

In the morning, London commuters on the Tube and London Overground services saw disruption.

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 fell during the day.

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.

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."
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

In other developments:
Four people have died as the storm swept through France, Germany and the Netherlands
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 has resumed
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 were 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
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 after 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 Environment Agency is warning of the risk of coastal flooding caused by strong winds and large waves in the wake of the storm
The weather has damaged construction work on the hangar at Bournemouth airport
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BBC Weather
BBC Travel News
BBC Local
Met Office
Environment Agency
Highways Agency
Traffic Wales
National Rail Enquiries

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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There is more information about the forecasts for Monday on the BBC Weather, Met Office and Environment Agency websites. See BBC Travel News for up to date travel information and the Highways Agency and Traffic Wales websites for details about road conditions.BBC Local has information from your area.


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