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1990: Children killed in devastating storm
At least 39 people, some of them children, have died in the worst weather to hit England and Wales since the 1987 storm.

Hurricane-force winds gusting in from the south-west brought chaos with many railway stations, roads and ports forced to close and some flights to major airports in England were diverted.

The severe weather also affected other parts of Europe, killing at least 21 people in France, the Netherlands and Belgium, and caused disruption and damage in West Germany.

The number of people killed in Britain is believed to be higher than that in 1987 because the storm struck during the day.

But fewer trees were damaged this time - in October 1987, 15 million were blown down because many still had their leaves.

Falling trees

The storm reached the south-west of England just before dawn and by 0800 police in the West Country, the Bristol area and Hampshire were inundated with calls.

Police described the situation as "chaotic", with cars and overturned lorries blocking motorways, buildings collapsing and power and telecommunications lines being blown down. At least half a million homes are without electricity.

An 11-year-old girl was killed and two others seriously injured by debris from a falling roof in Swindon. A block of stone fell onto a dinner hall at a school in Bristol killing one girl and injuring five others.

A 15-year-old girl was killed by a falling tree near her school in Ware, Hertfordshire.

At Newhaven in Sussex children were evacuated from a three-storey building as cracks appeared in the walls.

At Pounds Hill in Sussex a teacher led her class to safety just minutes before the building toppled over.

In Cardiff a 28-year-old woman was killed in her car when a tree fell on it - her two-month-old baby survived.

Two men restoring Uppark House in Sussex died when scaffolding collapsed.

Grants for worst-hit areas

A police Chief Inspector, John Smith, was killed when a tree fell on his car in Winchester.

Among the hundreds of people injured by falling trees and masonry was Gordon Kaye, star of the BBC's 'Allo 'Allo sitcom.

He is critically ill in hospital after a plank for an advertising board was blown through his car windscreen in west London.

At the height of the storm, ambulance staff abandoned their current strike to respond to emergency calls but were back on the picket line once the winds had died down.

An emergency meeting of senior ministers, chaired by Home Secretary David Waddington, is reviewing the effect of storm and the government has announced special funds will be granted to councils in worst-affected parts of the country.

Insurance companies estimate there has been at least 750m worth of damage. In 1987 they paid out some 1.2bn in claims.

Weather forecasters, still reeling from the surprise hurricane of 1987, insist they have been predicting today's severe weather for some days.

Climatologists say the storms of recent years are caused by the Greenhouse effect as the warm air from the tropics hits the cold air from the poles and causes depressions that sweep across the Atlantic.

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Lorry being blown over by storm-force winds
Hurricane-force winds toppled lorries and left roads and rail in chaos

Images of storm devastation

In Context
The 1990 storm was marginally less powerful than its better known predecessor of 1987. But no storm had caused such loss of life in the UK since the East Coast Flood disaster in 1953.

The trail of destruction from the Isles of Scilly to Denmark left 100 people dead, 47 of them in the British Isles alone.

The centre of the storm crossed the birthplace of Robbie Burns near Ayr on his birthday and became known as the "Burns Day Storm".

The actor Gordon Kaye who had sustained severe head injuries during the storm did make a slow recovery.

The months of January and February 1990 combined were to prove the warmest on national record. And the summer of that year also broke records.

The estimated cost of insurance claims came to 2bn.

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