Storm chaos as 90mph winds lash Britain

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The Independent Online
Britain braced itself against the threat of more storms and lashing rain today after hurricane-force winds of more than 90mph battered the coast of Wales yesterday.

Four people have already died in the atrocious weather conditions which brought destruction and travel chaos overnight. They included the parents of three-year-old Luke Holliday. He was sitting in the rear seat of a car when a tree snapped in heavy winds and fell on the vehicle on Sunday, killing his parents Paul Holliday, 33, and Elaine Bell, 39, as they drove near Thornton, Bradford, in West Yorkshire, where they lived.

In south Wales, police named an angler swept to his death from a pier at Swansea West Dock by a huge wave during a storm. The body of Paul Jones, 25, who lived locally, was found by coastguards after an air and sea search hampered by 60mph gusts and 40ft waves.

In another fishing tragedy in Wales, a 24-year-old man was swept away and drowned on Saturday while fishing with friends on rocks near Ogmore- by-Sea, Mid Glamorgan.

Coastguards at Mumbles near Swansea in south Wales, said that they had recorded a gust of 80 knots - around 92mph - as gales of storm force 11 to 13 swept down the Bristol Channel. Around 3,000 homes, many in Pembrokeshire, were blacked out as fallen trees brought down power lines in the storms.

Some 40,000 households from Rayleigh in Essex up to the borders of Suffolk in the east of England were also left without electricity as high winds hit the region.

Roads, bridges, rail and ferry connections around Britain were disrupted as the bad weather intensified. Rail services in the south of England were disrupted after two trains smashed into trees blown on to railway tracks.

Ferry services to Ireland from Fishguard and Holyhead were postponed and passengers were asked to check with ports before travelling. Ferry sailings to France were delayed with the Stena Normandy being held up in Southampton. Crossings between the mainland and the Isle of Wight were also disrupted.

In Scotland, heavy rain and gales brought flooding to many parts. Winds reached more than 80mph on the Galloway coast and flooding hit many roads in Dumfries and Galloway.

In London, fierce winds caused a 20ft plane tree to topple outside the Natural History Museum. The 50-year-old tree, with a two-foot diameter, fell into the Cromwell Road, in south Kensington, yesterday morning, the borough's arboricultural officer, Jane Dow, said.

A spokesman for the London Weather Centre warned that the bad weatherwould continue until at least midday today: "The whole country is going to get a battering."