Gales batter Britain with gusts of 80mph

Much of Britain was battered by gales that damaged properties and injured people at the weekend as forecasters issued a severe weather warning and predicted gusts of up to 80mph today.

Three children were taken to hospital after an inflatable slide came loose in the wind and toppled over at the West Kent Garden and Leisure Show, in Tonbridge, Kent, yesterday.

Four other children were treated at the scene by paramedics. A witness, Hannah Applegren, told the BBC several children were on the slide when it tipped. "Because they were right next to the climbing wall with various metal posts, they have fallen on to them," she said. "There was one boy with bleeding to the back of his head and it was quite serious."

Three yachts competing in a race from Whitby to Scarborough off the Yorkshire coast had to be rescued by coastguards after getting into difficulty in heavy seas. One man suffered mild hypothermia when he fell overboard and was hauled back on to the boat by other crew members before being taken to hospital. Two other vessels suffered engine failure during the race.

Driving wind and rain hampered rescues in Snowdonia in North Wales on Saturday. An extra train was laid on by the Snowdon Mountain Railway to transport four casualties, along with members of the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team and staff from the summit of Snowdon.

Other walkers were stretchered off the slopes with a variety of injuries after low cloud and 60mph winds saw conditions deteriorate dramatically, forcing a rescue helicopter to be grounded. One group, which managed to climb Mount Snowdon twice in one day to raise money for charity, described the conditions as "horrendous".Forecasters said the weather was likely to deteriorate further today.

The Meteorological Office in London said last night: "A period of exceptionally windy weather is expected across the northern half of the country during Monday. "Gusts of up to 60mph are expected widely and very exposed areas may see gusts as high as 80mph