St Jude's Day storm: Four confirmed dead as Britain is bombarded with high winds and heavy rain

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

At it's peak a total of 600,000 homes were left without power as a result of the storm

Four people have been killed after a major storm battered Britain with high winds and heavy rain, leaving 600,000 homes without power and causing transport chaos.

Click here or on 'view gallery' to see more images

A 17-year-old girl named as Bethany Freeman and an unnamed man in his 50s in Watford were killed by falling trees in Kent and Watford respectively, while police this afternoon confirmed that the bodies of an elderly man and woman had been found in a west London house following a gas explosion also caused by a falling tree.

The blast occurred in Hounslow earlier this morning after a falling tree destroyed three houses and landed on a gas main. Witnesses say debris was scattered over 50 metres around the blast site, with local fire station manager Matt Burrows describing the usually leafy, suburban street as a "scene of devastation". The bodies of an unnamed elderly couple were found among the rubble following an extensive search earlier this afternoon.

Meanwhile in Edenbridge, 17-year-old Bethany Freeman suffered fatal injuries when a tree fell onto the static home in which she was sleeping.

Chief Superintendent Steve Corbishly from Kent Police said: “She was in a static home adjoining the house she lives in with her family. Tragically, she did die at the scene. It's not being treated as suspicious but we're working with Fire and Rescue to determine the exact cause.”

Seventeen-year-old Bethany Freeman who was killed by a falling tree Seventeen-year-old Bethany Freeman who was killed by a falling tree The unnamed 50-year-old man died after a tree crushed his red Peugeot 307 on Watford's Lower High Street.

The BBC quoted passer-by Mark Joseph as saying: "We tried to assist, trying to get the tree off, but it was impossible... The poor chap didn't stand a chance.”

Confirmation of the four deaths came amid news that the search has been called off for 14-year-old Dylan Alkins, who was swept out to sea in Newhaven yesterday afternoon in what the coastguard described as "atrocious" conditions.

David Cameron described the multiple loss of life as a result of the storm as "hugely regrettable".

The deaths came as commuters across the southern part of Britain faced disruption on road, rail and air transport services after the storm battered the UK, bringing with it near-100mph winds.

The weather system, dubbed the St Jude's day storm after the patron saint of lost causes and 'cases despaired of', whose feast day is today, has brought down trees across the region and according to overnight reports has damaged property and left many roads impassable through floodwater.

The storm hit the South West late last night before tracking north eastwards across England and southern Wales throughout the morning.

At its peak, a total of 600,000 homes were left without power as a result of the storm. According to the BBC, a spokesman for the Energy Networks Association, which represents power companies across the UK, said 310,000 of those households had now been reconnected, but admitted more homes have since been cut off as the storm moved north and eastwards.

Around 130 flights were cancelled at Heathrow, and Network Rail has said there is disruption on all train services in and out of London as a result of the "worse than expected" conditions.

A boat is dragged from its mooring on the beach and destroyed by large waves near Brighton Marina, in southern England A boat is dragged from its mooring on the beach and destroyed by large waves near Brighton Marina, in southern England

 

Developments at a glance

* 17-year-old Bethany Freeman killed  after a tree fell onto static home where she was sleeping in Kent

* Man in his 50s killed after a tree crushed his car in Watford

* Whitehall was closed both ways between Parliament Square and Horse Guards Avenue due to a collapsed crane.

* Storm force 11 winds were reported at Dover.

* A gust of 99mph (159km/h) was recorded on the Isle of Wight.

* Boy feared dead after being swept out to sea in New Haven, East Sussex.

* An empty passenger train has hit a tree near Ivybridge station in Devon.

* Severn crossings between South Wales and England have reopened.

* Network rail reporting more than 100 railway line blockages.

* Sussex Police tweeted that there were 125 trees down across roads in the county by 6.30am. 

* UK Power Networks says up to 270,000 households are without power across England.

* Heathrow Airport said around 130 flights had been cancelled.

* Transport for London (TfL) said there was disruption to six Underground lines due to debris from the storm on the tracks.

* Both reactors in Dungeness power station's B units have been automatically shut down

* Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in south-west London was closed today because of damage caused by the weather.

* Two people remain unaccounted for following a gas explosion caused by a falling tree

Many rail services that had hoped to be running reduced services before lunch are still badly affected - with some advising against travel for the rest of the day.

Parts of the country remain on flood alert with the Environment Agency issuing 12 flood warnings for the South West, as well as 131 flood alerts for the rest of England and Wales.

The public had been warned to expect the possibility of power cuts, trees blocking roads and transport disruption.

 

Waves crash near Brighton Pier in East Sussex, as England and Wales face a battering tonight from the worst storm in five years Waves crash near Brighton Pier in East Sussex, as England and Wales face a battering tonight from the worst storm in five years

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Service Manager

£37000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has become available...

Recruitment Genius: Administrator

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has a track record...

Recruitment Genius: Solar Field Sales Executive

£40000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Relations Officer

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable