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The BBC's Julia Peet in Devon
"Residents say this is the worst flooding in more than 20 years"
 real 56k

The BBC's Peter Gould
"Thousands of homes are without electricity"
 real 56k

Ed Gallagher, Environment Agency Chief Executive
"We seem to be in a well established pattern now of bad weather"
 real 56k

Monday, 30 October, 2000, 16:11 GMT
Storms lash Britain
Dover waves
Huge waves burst over the promenade at Dover
The worst storms in a decade have battered southern Britain, killing three people and flooding roads and towns

Winds reaching almost 100mph brought travel chaos, prompting Railtrack to close stations across the region and bringing a warning to motorists to stay at home.

Hundreds of houses have been evacuated and fallen trees have caused damage to power lines.

Travel Chaos
Eurostar, Connex South Eastern, Central, most Virgin and GNER Intercity trains suspended
Thameslink, West Anglia, Silverlink, Central Trains, Midland Mainline and Great Northern trains subject to delays
Almost no train services throughout southern England
London Underground disruption on Bakerloo, Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines
Many flights to Heathrow and Gatwick delayed
Sections of M25, M23, M9 and M20 motorways closed
A motorcyclist was killed on Monday morning after he was hit by a falling tree on the A387, near Wrantage, in Somerset.

His death followed an accident on Sunday in which one person died and two were seriously injured when a tree fell onto two cars on the A3 at Hindhead, in Surrey.

A Dutch skipper was also killed when his boat got into difficulty off the south Devon coast.

And a taxi driver from Brentwood, in Essex, is in a critical condition after a falling tree struck his cab.

The port of Dover was closed for several hours, but most services had resumed by Monday afternoon. Thousands of passengers had been stranded mid-Channel waiting for the winds to die down.

Robert Barnes, 21, from Upminster, in Essex, who was on a P&O Ferry from Calais, said: "It's been a pretty mad journey but I think everybody just got drunk to pass the time."

Tornado strikes

The Met Office said at noon on Monday that many places in southern England and the Midlands had experienced almost two inches of rain over the previous 12 hours.

Winds overnight had gusted to around 90mph in many areas, with 97mph recorded at Mumbles Head on the south Wales coast and 92mph in Plymouth, Devon.

Birmingham train
Sparks flew as the tree brought down power cables
Two people were injured when a tornado hit Selsey, in West Sussex, early on Monday - less than 48 hours after a similar freak wind caused devastation a few miles along the coast at Bognor Regis.

Commuters who made it on to their train at Walsall, in the West Midlands, had a lucky escape when a falling tree struck a coach.

Passenger Sue Hunt said: "It was awful. Our first reaction was to get off, but we had to stay put. When it landed there was a horrendous bang."

Rail Enquiries Hotline: 0345 48 49 50

Passengers hoping to reach the continent by rail also face delays. Eurostar announced all its services out of Waterloo have been suspended.

In London, Underground rail services to Heathrow Airport have been suspended after a tree hit an empty train.

Blocked railway
Falling trees left many lines impassable
Many other train companies have told passengers not to travel if at all possible.

Thousands of commuters took the advice and stayed at home.

In London the law courts have been reduced to chaos and several schools around the country have remained closed.

BBC forecasters say the gales are of a similar ferocity to the storms that ravaged Britain in 1987.

The cost could prove just as high, although a spokesman for the Association of British Insurers said it would be some time before the full cost could be calculated.

Snowbound A66
Traffic brought to a standstill on the A66 in Cumbria
The north of England and Scotland have not escaped unscathed by the low pressure zone.

There have been heavy snowfalls in parts of Scotland and blizzard conditions have been reported in Yorkshire.

And in the East Midlands its estimated that about 60,000 homes have been left without power.

Flood threat

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

Police and firefighters are on standby in several counties to cope with floods which, it is feared, could match those that left large areas of Sussex and Kent underwater three weeks ago.

Rive Tone, Taunton
Taunton is poised for serious flooding
Severe flood warnings, the Environment Agency's most serious alert, have been issued on 27 rivers in England and Wales.

Just a few miles from Uckfield, which was badly hit by flooding early in October, the town of Robertsbridge is experiencing serious flooding.

And many parts of the west country and south Wales are also underwater. Taunton, in Somerset, is braced for a complete evacuation of the town centre if the river breaks its banks.

Ed Gallagher, head of the Environment Agency, warned that the conditions represented a real risk to life and limb.

"The situation is going to become critical at high tide this evening. Much will depend on whether it continues to rain, but we are expecting rivers to flood," he said.

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Battered UK
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See also:

30 Oct 00 | UK
Storm chaos at a glance
30 Oct 00 | UK
Storm damage in pictures
30 Oct 00 | UK
Rail network paralysed
30 Oct 00 | UK
Two injured in tornado
30 Oct 00 | UK
You think this is bad?
30 Oct 00 | Scotland
Passengers face day of misery
30 Oct 00 | Wales
Storms wreak chaos around Wales
04 May 99 | World
Nature at its most powerful
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