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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 January, 2005, 18:24 GMT
Many without power after storms
Van in Glencoe
This van was forced off the road in Glencoe in Scotland
Nearly 50,000 homes are without power after severe storms battered northern Britain, killing at least three people.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have been clearing roads and re-opening schools after 120mph winds uprooted trees and damaged buildings.

Several people trapped by rising water had to be rescued from homes and cars.

Two people died on the roads in Londonderry and in Scotland and a man's body was found near a causeway linking two islands in the Outer Hebrides.

A search has begun for four of his relatives after a car was pulled out of the water at Benbecula.

A Spanish fishing boat which went missing off the Hebrides was rescued by the RAF - its 19 crew members were unharmed.

The BBC Weather Centre said the worst storms have passed but warned of swollen rivers and blizzards.

The Met Office said travel should be avoided because of fallen trees, damaged buildings and flooded roads.

Flooded house in Ronaldsay, Orkney

The strongest winds were measured at 124mph on North Rona, in the Western Isles.

On South Uist, an 84-year-old woman was rescued from her home after being trapped by rising water.

And in Oban, on Scotland's west coast, six old people were rescued from their flooded housing complex by Fort William Coastguard.

Winds of at least 70mph have hit most of Scotland, along with rain, sleet, thunder and lightning.

Across Scotland roads are blocked, main bridges are closed, ferry services have been abandoned and rail routes suspended.

By Wednesday evening there were six flood warnings - indicated flooding was expected - in place in England and Wales. And there were 23 "flood watches" - where flooding is possible.

In Scotland there were four flood warnings and 13 flood watches.

Tuesday's storms came days after severe weather caused chaos throughout northern England.

Up to 10,000 homes in Hexham, Northumberland, are still without running water and there are 4,000 properties in Cumbria without electricity.

At 0030 GMT on Wednesday coastguards were called out to rescue a couple trapped in a car by floodwater near Easton, Cumbria.

Buildings at Sellafield nuclear plant suffered external damage and staff have been sent home until Thursday.

The clean-up operation in Carlisle has only just begun after the city suffered some of the most serious floods in its history.

Climate change 'reality'

Environment Minister Elliot Morley told the House of Commons that "detailed weather forecasts" had allowed public and private bodies to take steps to reduce the damage caused by storms, including cancelling train and ferry services.

Mr Morley told MPs unpredictable weather was something Britain now had to prepare for.

"Climate change is a reality," he said. "We have had the warmest 10 years on record, since the 1990s. "We have had double the extreme weather incidence in the last decade.

"And it does mean that we have to take all steps necessary in terms of reducing risks to people, bearing in mind that we cannot guarantee that extreme events won't happen."

The weather has hampered salvage efforts in Carlisle, where thousands of homes were evacuated due to flooding at the weekend.

Two people were killed and two went missing after torrential rain and gales swept north England and elsewhere.

Mr Morley has announced a review of the flood warning system as many people had not been alerted to the danger early enough.

Call the Environment Agency's Floodline for flood warnings on 0845 988 1188.


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BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the damage caused by the storms across the UK




SEE ALSO:
Storm knocks out power supplies
11 Jan 05 |  Scotland
Severe storms set to hit Scotland
11 Jan 05 |  Scotland
In pictures: Storm sweeps UK
08 Jan 05 |  Photo Gallery


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