The aftermath: 2,70,000 homes left without power, rail traffic paralysed and around 130 flights grounded at Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport
London : At least three people were killed on Monday as St Jude, one of the worst storms to hit Britain in years, left around 2,70,000 homes without power, paralysed rail traffic and grounded some 130 flights at Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport.
A 17-year-old girl suffered fatal injuries when a tree came down as she slept in her mobile home in Kent of southeast England. A 50-year-old man was also killed after a tree crushed his car in Watford near London.
A man was found dead at a house in west London that collapsed after after a tree fell on it causing a gas explosion, the Scotland Yard said. Three people managed to escape the building, and a woman was taken to hospital with severe burns. Meanwhile, rescuers called off the search for 14-year-old Dylan Alkins who disappeared while playing at West Beach in East Sussex Sunday evening. Prime Minister David Cameron said the deaths caused by the storm were “hugely regrettable”. “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,” he said.
Cameron was in Oxford when a crane collapsed on the Cabinet Office in Westminster due to gale force winds and driving rain. A Cabinet Office spokesperson said no one was injured in the incident and all staff have been evacuated while the extent of damage is assessed.
The Met Office said winds up to 159 kmph were recorded on the Isle of Wight as hurricane-force winds battered parts of England and Wales, forcing UK’s Environment Agency to issue 152 flood alerts across the country. Network Rail said the damage had been “worse than expected”, with more than 100 trees on the lines. Traffic chaos was expected on the roads as a result of felled trees and electricity poles. One-in-five early morning flights from Heathrow were cancelled with disruption expected at other airports across the UK as well. “Passengers due to travel on Monday should check the status of their flight with their airline before travelling to the airport,” Heathrow, one of the busiest airports in the world, said in a statement.
BBC weather forecaster Steve Cleeton said the storm was “pretty much over” in the UK London Metropolitan Police has urged people to not call the emergency relief number unless there is a “genuine” emergency.
In northwest France, 30,000 homes were without electricity and the cross-Channel train service, Eurostar, said it will not run many morning trains. Several ferry operators also cancelled cross-Channel services and Irish Sea crossings. Britain last experienced similar wind strengths in March 2008. Cameron received an update from officials on contingency planning amid fears of destruction similar to that was caused by the ‘Great Storm’ of October 1987, which left 18 people dead in Britain and four in France and caused damages worth more than 1 billion pounds. Chief forecaster at the Met Office Martin Young said, “While this is a major storm for the UK, We don’t currently expect winds to be as strong as those seen in the ‘Great Storm’ of 1987 or the ‘Burns Day storm’ of 1990.” This year’s storm has been named St Jude after the patron saint of lost causes, whose feast day is on Monday. -PTI