St Jude's storm: falling trees kill two as 99mph winds batter Britain
Rescuers call off search for teenager swept out to sea, as two others die in Kent and Watford
TWO PEOPLE have been killed by falling trees today, while a teenage boy is feared to have drowned amid severe storms battering parts of Britain.
A 17-year-old girl suffered fatal injuries after she was crushed by a tree as she slept in a caravan in Hever, Kent and a man in his 50s was pronounced dead at the scene after a tree crushed a red Peugot 307 in Watford.
Hurricane-force winds have also knocked down cranes and electricity poles this morning, while hundreds of cancelled trains and flights have caused travel chaos for commuters.
Gusts of wind reached 99mph at the peak of St Jude's Storm - named after the patron saint of depression and lost causes, whose feast day is today.
Several newspapers have made comparisons to the 1987 Great Storm, which killed 18 people and felled around 15 million trees.
Yesterday a 14-year-old boy was swept out to sea while playing in the surf at Newhaven, East Sussex. Rescuers called off the search last night as heavy winds created "atrocious" conditions.
A Sussex police officer was injured this morning when a tree fell onto the bonnet of his patrol car, while a cab driver in Eastbourne narrowly escaped injury after a large tree crushed his vehicle.
As Downing Street issued weather advice, photos emerged of a crane that had fallen onto the roof of the Cabinet Office, reports the Daily Telegraph. In Devon and Cornwall, police were called out to 238 weather-related incidents overnight, while UK Power Networks said about 40,000 homes across south-east England, the east of England and London have been left without power.
Meanwhile, thousands of commuters are struggling to get into work, with temporary closures of several major bridges and the cancellation of many flights and rail services.
Most train operators in the south of England pre-emptively cancelled services before 9am because of the risk of fallen power lines or trees and debris on the track, with more disruptions expected throughout the day. Around 130 flights have been cancelled from Heathrow. Air passengers planning to travel through UK airports have been advised to check the status of their flight with their airline.
The Environment Agency has also issued 16 flood warnings across the south west, indicating that flooding is expected and immediate action is required. The Met Office has predicted up to 40mm of rain in some areas. ·