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
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer - Midweight / Senior

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks