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Britain counts cost of strong winds

Strong winds have returned to Britain, bringing trees crashing down on to roads and power lines, disrupting travel and causing millions of pounds in damage.

A woman and a 10-year-old boy were taken to hospital after a tree fell on their car outside a primary school in Hertfordshire and two other people were injured when damaged overhead cable equipment smashed a window on a train near Ely in Cambridgeshire. All four sustained minor injuries.

A lorry driver was also taken to hospital when an HGV overturned on the A1 at Leeming in North Yorkshire. Meanwhile, four people were trapped in a house in Chingford, east London, when a tree tumbled down in front of it.

Schools and roads were closed in other parts of the country and thousands of homes suffered power cuts after cables were brought down. Wind speeds reached 112mph overnight at Great Dun Fell in the Pennines - the highest wind speed recorded this week.

The Association of British Insurers estimated the damage caused since Monday to be worth tens of millions of pounds.

Storms earlier this week claimed two lives - father-of-three Christopher Hayes, 51, who was killed when a tree crushed his parked van in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and a crew member on board a tanker that was hit by a large wave off the coast of the south Devon/Cornwall border.

In North Yorkshire on Thursday, several lorries were blown over in high winds and North Yorkshire Fire Service was called out to localised flooding at homes in the Skipton area. Crews were also called to two incidents of cars trapped in flood water.

Norfolk County Council said it dealt with 200 incidents on the county's roads overnight as gales and rain brought trees, branches and a power line down. And motorists suffered delays of up to two hours on the M25 because of the closure of the Dartford Crossing's QEII Bridge for much of the day.

The high winds also led to a series of disruptions to rush-hour train services across the country, with trees on the line causing delays in a number of areas and overhead line problems causing further disruption.

MeteoGroup said parts of northern England, Scotland and the north of Wales had seen the windiest weather. Forecaster Lindsay Dovey said: "It's been pretty blustery around the country but the winds eased off a bit in the afternoon and will continue to ease off overnight."


From Belfast Telegraph