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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 June, 2003, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Thousands affected by storms
GNER train
All GNER trains faced delays in the north-east of England
Fire officers say a Teesside woman had a lucky escape when her home was hit by lightning and caught fire in the early hours of Tuesday.

Severe storms brought chaos to north-east England, with 25,000 homes without power at one point.

Public transport services also suffered big delays, with East Coast Mail Line rail services affected by a lightning strike on signals in Darlington and flooding in tunnels used by Tyne and Wear Metro trains.

Cleveland Fire Brigade said a woman in Hartlepool was forced to flee her home after a lightning strike travelled into her living room via a television aerial and was conducted to a radiator.

A spokesman said the spark was so powerful it set furnishings alight.

He said: "The woman was woken by the storm, but was unaware her home had been hit by lightning.

"A neighbour, who was passing the house at the time, heard her smoke alarm and spotted the fire.

"The woman was then taken to safety without injury."

Without electricity

In County Durham 5,000 homes are still without electricity after storms disrupted power supplies.

A spokeswoman for power company NEDL said at one point 25,000 homes were without electricity.

She said engineers were still unable to access some areas because of the storms.

Commuters faced chaos as the storms brought delays to tens of thousands of people.

Trains on the East Coast Main Line were seriously disrupted after lightning struck signals in Darlington.

Train company GNER said all its service were being delayed.

Shuttle services

Virgin Trains and Arriva Trains Northern also said their services were being affected.

A spokesman for Arriva Trains Northern said some services were diverted from the south along the North East coast.

All passengers are being advised to call National Rail Inquiries.

Meanwhile the Tyne and Wear Metro system was also being affected.

Shuttle services were introduced on some stretches of the network, which serves the cities of Newcastle and Sunderland.

A spokesman for Metro operator Nexus said flooding in tunnels had caused problems.

Passenger plane struck by lightning
09 Jun 03  |  Tyne/Wear
House struck by lightning
02 Jun 03  |  North Yorkshire
Police officer struck by lightning
13 May 03  |  Southern Counties

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