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The BBC's Graham Satchell
"There will be travel chaos this morning"
 real 56k

Monday, 30 October, 2000, 04:48 GMT
Storms batter Britain
Damaged train at Chilworth Station near Guildford
Two trains have hit trees blown onto the rail tracks
Severe storm and flood warnings are in force in parts of southern England and Wales as one of the worst storms in over a decade sweeps across Britain.

The port of Dover has been closed to all shipping, dozens of trees have been blown down blocking many roads and severe flood warnings are in place in Kent, East Sussex and Lynmouth in Devon.

Firefighter
A tornado hit Bognor Regis
One person died in the storms on Sunday, when their car struck a tree blown onto a motorway. The crew of a Norwegian freighter were rescued by helicopter after they abandoned their ship in towering seas.

BBC forecasters say the gales - with winds gusting up to 100mph - are of a similar ferocity to the storms which ravaged Britain in 1987, causing widespread destruction.

The Environment Agency has warned that the worst is expected to hit Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Sussex and Kent between midnight and 0600GMT.

The residents of the seaside town of Bognor Regis have been recovering from a tornado which caused severe damage on Saturday.

Flood threat

Hundreds of homes are threatened by flooding as rivers burst their banks after hours of torrential rain and high winds.

Police in Gloucestershire are poised to begin possible evacuations in Dursley and Cam after flooding. Rivers burst their banks in Swansea and Aberkenfig, near Bridgend.

Emergency worker
Falling trees are a menace
A severe flood warning, the Environment Agency's most serious alert, was issued on the East Lyn River in north Devon.

The EA said flood defences in Lynmouth were in danger of being overwhelmed and said hundreds of homes could be at risk.

More than 20 householders were evacuated from North Tawton, near Okehampton, Devon, after severe flooding, a police spokesman said.

Flood warnings are in place on five rivers in north Wales, three in the south west and three in the south east.

Sussex Police said roads had flooded across East and West Sussex but had not forced evacuations. But they said Robertsbridge, which is under a severe flood warning, and Midhurst, were being closely monitored.

Power failure

Thousands of homes have had their electricity supplies cut off by the storms.

Southern Electric had 8,000 customers without power on Sunday afternoon.

Power cuts were reported through Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire as far as west London.

"A lot of the problems are in rural areas where the lines are more exposed and a lot of it has been caused by trees and other flying debris," said Southern Electric spokesman Bob Major.

"We had anticipated this and had engineers strategically placed around the area."

About 13,000 homes in Kent suffered power cuts after storms brought down cables.

Train crashes

On Sunday evening one person died and two others were seriously injured when a tree hit two cars on the A3 near Hindhead in Surrey.

In two other incidents, trains in Guildford in Surrey and Evesham in Worcestershire, ploughed into trees that had been blown on the tracks. No one was injured.

Scotland bore the worst of the weather on Saturday night, with high winds overturning a Cessna 172 single engine light aircraft at Edinburgh airport just before 0200GMT on Sunday.

Five crewmen were also evacuated from a coaster of the Scottish coast amid hurricane-force winds.

And two hill walkers were rescued from the Grampian mountains after spending Saturday night in the open. They are recovering in hospital, in Aberdeen

In Cumbria rescuers were alerted on Sunday after two boys, aged eight and 12, were stranded on a sandbank near Millom.

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See also:

29 Oct 00 | Scotland
Crew rescued from cargo ship
29 Oct 00 | UK
UK braced for storms
04 May 99 | World
Nature at its most powerful
08 Nov 99 | UK
Two injured in 'tornado'
29 Oct 00 | Scotland
Storms batter Scotland
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