Floods: Two die as storms wreak havoc in England

TWO people died and tens of thousands of homes were without power as Britain’s severe weather continued to bring flood misery to parts of the country yesterday.

Police investigate the wreck of a car in which a woman was killed by falling masonry. Photograph: Getty Images
Police investigate the wreck of a car in which a woman was killed by falling masonry. Photograph: Getty Images

Minicab driver Julie Sillitoe, 49, was killed close to London’s Holborn Underground station after large chunks of masonry fell on to her silver Skoda Octavia. Her passengers, a 25-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman, are being treated in hospital.

An 85-year-old man died after the 22,000-tonne Marco Polo cruise ship on which he was travelling was hit by a freak wave in the English Channel. The man was airlifted off the vessel, along with a woman in her 70s, but later died.

Several other passengers were injured when water crashed through a window on the ship as it headed for its home port in Essex.

Elsewhere, more than 30 people had to be rescued from a seafront restaurant in Milford on Sea, Hampshire, after wind-blown shingle shattered windows and the sea flooded it. There was major disruption across Britain’s road and rail networks, with hundreds of trees uprooted across roads and rail tracks. Many train services were cancelled.

The Energy Networks Association, which represents energy companies across the UK, said more than 140,000 homes were without power after storms overnight.

The Environment Agency and emergency services continued to battle the worst winter storms in living memory.

Some 22 severe flood warnings – meaning danger to life – were in place, for coastal communities from Cornwall to Hampshire, Gloucester and the Thames Valley.

Nearly 190 less serious flood warnings and 320 flood alerts were in place.

All train services west of Plymouth were cancelled yesterday, while a landslide near Redhill, Surrey, hit the railway line south of London.

Network Rail said there were delays on the West Coast Main Line as engineers worked to repair overhead power lines cut by fallen trees.

Meanwhile, waves of up to 33ft reportedly threatened to cut off Portland in Dorset, while people in Portsmouth have been receiving hoax calls urging them to evacuate their homes amid flooding fears, Hampshire Police said.

The Queen’s private electricity supply in the Thames to Windsor Castle is out of action thanks to the flood-swollen River Thames.

Forecasters have warned of more winds and rain today, but say they will ease off later in the day.