Commuters hit as wild weather lashes the south

The damage: A car is crushed under a fallen tree as a man pushes a bicycle nearby following a storm, in Hornsey, north London. Photo: Yui MokA major storm is battering southern Britain, with winds of almost 160km/h tearing through property and causing flooding and major travel disruption.
Nanjing Night Net

The wild weather closed down a major British port, causing two ferries carrying more than 450 passengers to be stranded in stormy seas off Dover, according to French authorities.

‘‘Two ferries are blocked due to the closure of Dover port, one carrying 398 passengers and the other 65,’’ said the harbour master’s office at the French port of Calais on Monday.

The situation was said to be under control.

On the mainland, more than 7000 homes in the Bristol and Bath area have reportedly been left without power, flights and rail services across the country have been cancelled or delayed and there is widespread flooding in southern England as rain and hurricane-force winds arrived from the southwest.

Trees have been brought down by high winds, damaging property, and a number of roads left impassable by floodwater.

The rough conditions led to rescuers standing down the search for a 14-year-old boy who was washed out to sea from a beach in Newhaven, East Sussex, on England’s south coast on Sunday afternoon.

In northwest France 30,000 homes were without electricity early on Monday, said the ERDF distribution network, after wind gusts reached 133km/h in some areas knocking down power lines but no major damage or injury were reported.

Britain’s Met Office said wind reached more than 160km/h on the Isle of Wight at 5am and the Environment Agency has issued 14 flood warnings for the southwest, as well as 146 flood alerts for the rest of England and Wales.

Commuters and travellers were warned to expect major disruptions to services.

About 60 flights were cancelled at London’s Heathrow Airport on Monday, while ferry journeys have also been disrupted.

Robin Gisby from line operator Network Rail said: ‘‘If we get through this in the morning, restore the service during the afternoon and are able to start up a good service on Tuesday morning, in the circumstances I’ll be pretty pleased.’’

Cross-channel train service Eurostar said it would not be running trains on Monday until 7.00am, meaning delays to early services.

Several ferry operators said they had cancelled some cross-Channel services and Irish Sea crossings.

The so-called St Jude Storm hit the southwest late on Sunday night before tracking north eastwards across England and southern Wales throughout Monday morning.

The Met Office issued an ‘‘amber’’ wind warning for the region, the third highest in a four-level scale, and urged people to delay their Monday morning journeys to work to avoid the worst of the bad weather.

PA/AFP

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