Dubbed the ‘Great Storm on 2013’, St Jude’s storm swept across the UK in the early hours of Monday morning toppling trees, closing the rail system and killing four Britons. A 17 year old girl, named locally as Bethany Freeman, was killed as a 30ft tree fell onto the static caravan she was sleeping in near Hever, Kent. That came shortly after 51 year old Donal Drohan was killed as a tree fell on the Peugeot he was driving along Watford’s Lower High Street. Hertfordshire Police later confirmed that Mr Drohan had been pronounced dead at the scene, despite the best efforts of the emergency services. Police also confirmed that the bodies of an elderly man and woman had been discovered at the scene of a gas explosion as a result of a falling tree in west London. The blast, in Hounslow, destroyed three houses as a large tree fell onto main gas pipe. Three other people were taken to hospital following the blast, two of which have now been discharged, the condition of the other is unknown but Sky News reports that an elderly woman is currently being treated for burns.
The confirmation of the deaths follows the news that the search for a 14 year old boy, who was swept out to sea in Newhaven yesterday evening, has been called off. According to The Independent coastguards described the conditions as “atrocious”. In Oxford today, Prime Minister David Cameron said that “any injury or loss of life is hugely regrettable. We have to make sure the emergency services can act as fast as they can to help people.”
The deaths came as St Jude’s storm caused much disruption across southern parts of England and Wales. Gusts reached 99mph at the Needles on the Isle of Wight with most regions experiencing winds in excess of 70mph. More than 50mm of rain fell across parts of Hampshire with 44mm falling in the Welsh capital, Cardiff.
Many rail operators ran a reduced service this morning, with delays across much of the south of the country.
“Trains will not be allowed to run until the worst of the storm has passed and engineers have been able to check railway lines … branches or any other debris which may have blown onto or damaged the infrastructure.” Network Rail
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