Holiday weekend brings wet August to a stormy close

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The Independent Online
A NEAR record-breaking depression gripped Britain yesterday as continuing bad weather rounded off an exceptionally wet August.

Barometers registered 971 in parts of Scotland - Britain's second deepest low this century for the month of August - as accompanying storms claimed two lives.

The depression brought gale-force winds, driving rain and rough seas. Many traditional bank holiday events suffered as people decided to stay at home. Fair Isle, between the Orkneys and Shetlands, saw winds up to 80mph, and Alderney in the Channel Islands recorded gusts of 78mph.

Robert Rust, 79, a retired engineer, of Kettins, Tayside, was walking his dog at about 10.20 yesterday morning when he was struck by a branch blown from a tree. He was taken to Blairgowrie cottage hospital but was found to be dead on arrival.

On Sunday night, Kaj Narskov Neilson, a Danish flying student, who was a resident of Greenland, died when he was struck by lightning in the grounds of Scone Palace while sheltering from torrential rain.

In London, winds gusting up to 52mph were thought to be an August record for the capital.

The bad weather kept the crowds away from the Notting Hill Carnival on Sunday when between 80,000 and 100,000 turned up - about half last year's total. Yesterday, attendance rallied to about 300,000. By 7pm last night, 58 arrests had been made during the course of the carnival, covering offences of assault, possessing offensive weapons, drugs and theft. Twenty-six crimes were reported.

Three police officers, injured while making arrests, were taken to Hammersmith hospital. A woman officer suffered slight concussion and two male colleagues treated for a suspected fractured wrist and a bite incurred while arresting a robbery suspect.

Three people were stabbed, but last night police described the condition of the victims as 'non- life threatening'.

In Berkshire, mounted police were sent in to keep order among impatient rock fans yesterday as torrential rain turned this year's Reading Festival into a mud bath.

Chief Superintendent David Eyles said the scene at the festival resembled the muddy trenches of the First World War. 'I have just had a horse up to his belly in mud,' he said.

By lunchtime yesterday, police had made 193 arrests at the three- day event.

At least eight people died in road accidents over the bank holiday weekend. One motorist was killed and two people seriously injured yesterday after two cars collided on the A283 at Washington, near Steyning, Sussex.

Police are appealing for witnesses to a road crash on the A596 near Wigton in Cumbria, which left three people dead and three children injured. Frederick Sinton, 64, and his wife Agnes, 59, were driving with three grandchildren on Sunday when the accident happened. The couple from West Road, Wigton, were killed along with the driver of the other car, Jason Irving, 22, of Netherton, Maryport, Cumbria. Vicky Allinson, six, and her brothers, Christopher, eight, and Oliver, three, of Aspatria, Cumbria, were taken to Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle.

Three people died and 10 others were injured in a four-vehicle road accident on the A140 at Stonham, near Ipswich on Sunday night. The three who died were from Suffolk. Two had been travelling in a Rover car, the other was a passenger in one of two Ford Transit vans involved.

Matthew Wigston, 21, from Southmead, Bristol, died at the wheel of a stolen car when it somersaulted into a garden after being followed by police in an unmarked vehicle. The passenger, Neil Morgan, 17, had to be cut from the wreckage of the Vauxhall Cavalier after it crashed into a parked vehicle on a bend in Bristol, early on Sunday morning. He was released from hospital after being treated for minor injuries.

A police spokesman said that officers chased the Cavalier, which was driving without lights, along the A38 Gloucester road. They lost sight of the stolen vehicle when they had to stop at traffic lights.

(Photographs omitted)

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