Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Search resumes for missing sailor

Waves crash onto the beach at Selsey Bill near Chichester, West Sussex.
Waves crash onto the beach at Selsey Bill near Chichester, West Sussex.

A search has resumed for a missing sailor and t housands of people are recovering from flooding and power disruption after heavy downpours and gale-force winds hit parts of the UK.

Storms caused by an Atlantic depression left more than 10,000 customers without electricity in Northern Ireland, though most have now been reconnected, with another 5,000 without power in South Wales and 3,500 affected in north-west England .

Gusts of up to 90mph are expected to cut across Northern Ireland and parts of western Scotland today, while there are warnings of up to 20cm of snow in Scotland and icy roads across much of England.

Laura Young, spokeswoman for the Met Office, said: "It's still very windy across most parts of the country. The outlook is wet and windy for the next few days, but nothing as extreme as last night.

"We are not looking at any winds at the same level as we had last night for the next couple of days.

" There is a warning for snow across Scotland which could be 10-20cm on higher ground. I'd be surprised if we got more than 5cm on lower ground.

"Although the strongest winds have eased in Scotland, it's still very windy and any snow that does fall could get caught in that, leading to blizzard-like conditions and poor visibility."

Meanwhile next week's Christmas getaway could be affected by unsettled weather with heavy rain in the South and strong winds in the North, although forecasters stressed it was too early to predict what impact this could have on the transport network.

A search for a missing sailor who fell overboard from a small cargo ship in North Lincolnshire resumed this morning.

The 45-year-old man, believed to be a foreign national, fell from a vessel moored on the River Trent yesterday.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said the man was working with ropes on the MV Sea Melody when he appeared to become entangled and was pulled over the side where he disappeared.

A helicopter from RAF Leconfield in East Yorkshire began a search and was joined by a coastguard team from Hull, but the search was called off because of gale force winds, and cold, driving rain, the MCA said.

A coastguard team from Hull and the police were looking for the man today.

Humber Coastguard watch manager Mike Puplett said: "We understand that the crewman was not wearing a life jacket and, in these conditions particularly, I would say this should have been an essential bare minimum of safety equipment."

A 23-year-old woman died in the Republic of Ireland when a tree fell on her car near Mullingar in Co Westmeath, while a 19-year-old man was also injured and taken to hospital when his car was hit by a falling tree in Warwickshire.

Four flood warnings meaning immediate action is required were in place for the River Blackwater in south-east England, and the Clyst and Parrett in the South West.

Roads in Bristol flooded yesterday, while in Cardiff the fire service had to pump water from streets.

A further 62 flood alerts were in place, with many in the Midlands and southern parts of the UK.

Six flood warnings were issued by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) said last night that it expected further damage to the electricity network as bad weather is set to continue.

It restored power to 1 0,000 customers who were without electricity because of trees down across power lines and broken electricity poles.

A spokesman said: " A small number of customers remain off supply in Counties Down and Antrim and repairs are ongoing in these areas."

Electricity North West said 3,500 customers were without power in Lancashire and Cumbria at 10pm last night, but engineers worked through the night and fewer than 700 remained cut off by 9am.

In South Wales more than 5,000 properties lost power at some point last night, although they were all reconnected by midnight, according to Western Power Distribution.

Last night's football fixtures were also hit by bad weather, with a Sky Bet Championship football match in Sheffield abandoned when heavy rain left the pitch unplayable.

Sheffield Wednesday's home match against Wigan, at Hillsborough Stadium, was called off early in the second half after large puddles appeared on the playing surface.

Stoke City's home tie against Manchester United in the League Cup was temporarily suspended due to heavy rain and hailstones.

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