Woman killed as winds hit 77mph

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The Independent Online

A woman died yesterday as gale force winds whipped across Britain yesterday, in some places reaching 77mph.

A woman died yesterday as gale force winds whipped across Britain yesterday, in some places reaching 77mph.

The 56-year-old was killed in Rugby, Warwickshire, as she walked through the town centre, shortly after mid-day, and rubble fell from a building. The Health and Safety Executive launched an immediate investigation into the incident.

Elsewhere winds ripped roofs from buildings, and downed power lines and trees, causing the closure of several key train and motorway routes.

There were no other reported injuries, but hundreds of football fans at the Division One game between Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Wanderers escaped as sheets of corrugated roofing were torn off a stand roof in gusts of up to 70mph. Witnesses said the debris, described by one supporter as like a "flying razor blade", landed on empty seats just a few feet from the crowd.

By last night, more than 12,000 homes across East Anglia were without power, and Cambridgeshire's police force said it had received more than 90 phone calls about roads blocked by fallen trees.

Power cables fell across both carriageways of a section of the M4 near Bristol, closing the road in both directions for almost six hours and causing big tailbacks.

In Cumbria, the M6 near Penrith was cut to one lane through snowfall. The A6 and A66 trans-Pennine route between Cumbria and Durham were also blocked by snow.

Among the worst affected rail travellers were those using the West Coast Mainline where power was lost; hundreds of people were stranded on seven trains near Hanslope, and strong winds downed cables affecting trains between Rugby and Milton Keynes. Services departing from Manchester and London, were disrupted.

Lines between Bristol Parkway and Westerley stations were closed for five-and-a-half hours as staff struggled against the winds to remove debris from the lines.

Weather commentators said the winds were likely to die down overnight but could reach up to 50mph in more exposed areas today.

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