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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 October, 2004, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
Huts and trains are hit by storms
Destroyed beach huts at Dawlish
Huts owners said they were devastated by the damage
Nearly 30 beach huts on a south Devon sea front were ripped apart by storms.

Debris from the 27 buildings at Dawlish was strewn hundreds of yards along the railway track and right into the town.

Owners will have to foot the bill for damage and loss of any belongings in the huts themselves as none of the structures were insured.

About 200 passengers were stuck for three hours on board two Virgin trains at Dawlish. They broke down after being lashed by sea water.

We got stuck next to the ocean and it was quite frightening
Train passenger
Only one of the 28 huts remained upright after being hit by Wednesday night's storm - and that was found more than 20ft (6m) from its original position.

Hut owner Shaun Mariner said: "We found one panel of the hut amongst debris. It was the side where we used to measure the children's ages and heights.

"It's the only bit we've got."

Another hut owner, Mandy Bonham, said the damage would affect what had become a summertime community.

She said: "In the summer, when all the owners are together, it's like a big family. Everyone knows each other and it's very devastating."

The town council did manage to contact some hut owners to alert them to the damage.

Owner Frank Taylor said: "The council rang me this morning at 7.30 and told me they were smashed and half of them were missing, so it meant we were a little prepared for it. But it is a sad day."

Network Rail staff on track
Teams from Network Rail were assessing any rail damage
Meanwhile, two of Virgin's flagship Voyager trains ground to a halt in the Dawlish area on Wednesday night - despite a series of modifications when it was found salt water affected electrical systems.

For passengers on the 1005 Glasgow to Penzance and 1625 Plymouth to York service, it meant several hours of misery and frustration.

One female passenger said: "We got stuck next to the ocean and it was quite frightening. Water was coming over the top of the train and we sat there for ages."

Virgin Trains apologised to passengers and promised a full investigation to establish why the trains lost power.

The company said it had been "running Voyager trains throughout yesterday, including during the morning high tide, and there was nothing to suggest there would be a problem."

Teams from Network Rail were assessing the damage throughout Thursday morning.

Replacement bus services are operating between Newton Abbott and Exeter St Davids and St Erth and Penzance.




SEE ALSO:
Floods cause town centre closure
28 Oct 04  |  Cornwall
Gusty winds batter south coast
28 Oct 04  |  Dorset


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