Three die as ferocious storms lash Britain

A A A

By Jane Hughes

By Jane Hughes

26 December 1999

TEN DOGS drowned when flood waters swept through a boarding kennel at Churchdown, near Gloucester, but rescuers managed to save another 10 as the high winds and torrential rain that hammered much of the British Isles on Christmas Eve eased yesterday.

The human death toll as a result of the fierce storms had by last night risen to three and, with more bad weather forecast, flood warnings stayed in force across much of the country.

Coastguards battled in heavy seas to rescue crewmen and passengers from stricken vessels. A five-month-old baby was among six people airlifted from a ship foundering in force 11 gales off the Northumberland coast. The master of the 2,000-ton cargo vessel sent out a mayday when the atrocious weather caused him to fear for the safety of his wife, baby and crew. The ship's Dutch owners hope to tow it by tug when conditions improve.

Meanwhile, a sailor died from his injuries after a Belgian cargo ship was hit by heavy seas eight miles south of the Isles of Scilly. Three other crew from the vessel suffered broken bones and were airlifted by an RAF rescue helicopter to hospital in Truro.

A man who was swept off a promenade into the Mersey at New Brighton died in hospital of a suspected heart attack after surviving in the freezing water for almost an hour. His companion, who was also caught in the high waves caused by 70mph winds, is being treated for hypothermia. Both men had ignored severe weather warnings from the coastguard.

Floods also claimed a victim on land. John Winchester, 85, died after being trapped in his bungalow in Galmpton, Devon, which was flooded with 7ft of water. His wife, Lilian, 82, was rescued by boat after a firefighter and a police officer swam through the floods to a bedroom window.

In Edinburgh, Philip Reid, 44, a security guard, suffered a fractured neck when he was hit by floorboards which blew off a temporary millennium stage erected for Hogmanay celebrations in Queens Park.

High tides added to the problems in coastal areas. More than 100,000 tons of shingle was removed from beaches in Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in a single tide.

Sussex was particularly badly hit. The fear of widespread flooding led to the evacuation of more than 200 residents in Selsey and Pevensey Bay, but they were allowed back home yesterday morning after a last-minute change in the wind direction averted the worst effects. The residents were warned they may have to leave a second time if the wind changes direction again.

Hundreds of Environment Agency staff worked through Christmas Day to shore up breached sea defences along the south coast in anticipation of last night's tide.

High tides and strong winds also led to two P&O Stena Line ferries leaving the port at Dover and spending the night at a sheltered anchorage at sea to avoid being battered against the dock.

Several rivers in Kent and Sussex were on red alert and around 60 rivers across Devon and Cornwall were still on yellow alert last night, the Environment Agency said. Homes were flooded in the Cumberland Basin, in the centre of Bristol, and the River Severn burst its banks south of Gloucester.

The storms also left thousands of homes without power as cables were brought down in Devon and Cornwall, East Anglia, Wales, Scotland and the Irish Republic.

Northern Ireland and Scotland were affected by snowfalls which made conditions difficult for drivers.

It was also a bad day for bookmakers who now stand to lose hundreds of thousands of pounds after flakes of snow were spotted falling on the London Weather Centre during Christmas Day.

Bookies had been offering odds of 50-1 against a White Christmas and, although the snowflakes hardly constituted a blizzard, they were enough to meet the Met Office's official definition.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn