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  1. ITV Report

Two killed as storm wreaks havoc

Fallen trees cause travel problems across the county. Photo:

Two people have died, hundreds of thousands of homes have been left without power and travellers suffered transport chaos after hurricane-force conditions battered Britain.

The Met Office lifted its amber warning as the heart of the storm blew off Norfolk and over the North Sea, leaving a trail of destruction and disruption behind it.

During the morning, winds of up to 100mph had swept through the South West, South, South East, the Midlands and the East of England after first hitting land in the early hours.

Met Office spokeswoman Laura Young said blustery conditions were expected to remain in London and the East Midlands throughout the day.

"We continue to monitor the situation and, although the amber warning is over, there are still strong winds and the impacts from earlier in the day are still around.

"People need to stay aware, keep an eye on the forecast and remain alert to the situation."

– Laura Young, Met Office spokeswoman

Earlier in the day, falling trees killed a man in his 50s from Harrow in north west London as he drove through Watford in Hertfordshire and a 17-year-old girl was killed as she slept in a static caravan in Hever, Kent.

Neighbours told how they had come forward with chainsaws to help free the girl after the 30ft (9m) tree completely crushed the home.

Some 300,000 homes suffered power cuts at some point throughout the morning, the Energy Networks Association said, with energy now restored to around 30,000.

Falling trees and other debris covering railway tracks caused travel misery for thousands of commuters, with trains and London Underground services suspended.

A tree that fell onto the line at Hatfield cause problems between Peterborough and Kings Cross. Credit: Network Rail

The port of Dover in Kent had to shut, more than 130 flights at Heathrow Airport were cancelled and many roads were impassable due to fallen trees.

Debris falling on to power lines also caused a nuclear power station to automatically close down both its reactors, leaving its own diesel generators to provide power for essential safety systems.

Martin Pearson, director at the Dungeness B station in Kent, which is run by EDF Energy, said: "This is a scenario we are well prepared for and we quickly responded calmly and professionally to the loss of supply."

The strongest gust of wind was recorded at 99mph on the Isle of Wight.

The Environment Agency said there were still 12 flood warnings in place across the South West, the Midlands and the East of England. There were also 130 flood alerts telling people to be prepared for flooding.

Storm causes flooding in Corby. Credit: Michael Mahon

A falling tree destroyed three houses when it fell on a gas main and led to an explosion in Hounslow, west London.

An elderly woman was taken to hospital following the blast and three people were rescued by London Fire Brigade.

Twelve people were evacuated from surrounding properties as a precaution and fire crews also rescued a dog.

A double-decker bus "rolled over" in Suffolk, injuring the driver and several passengers.

Witnesses told police the vehicle blew over at 8am, rolling onto its side and coming to a stop in a field in Hadleigh.

The driver, a man in his 40s, was initially trapped and was treated at the scene by paramedics.

A double-decker bus "rolled over" in Suffolk, injuring the driver and several passengers.

"He was suffering from neck pain, had taken a bash to his head and was in and out of consciousness.

"There were several other people on board, with a couple of walking wounded. We believe the driver has been taken to hospital. The road is completely blocked."

– Suffolk Police spokesman

In central London, Whitehall was closed both ways between Parliament Square and Horse Guards Avenue after a crane collapsed on to the roof of the Cabinet Office.

Experts said that, while the gales had been relatively weak compared with the Great Storm of 1987, it had shown how much weather predictions have improved compared with 26 years ago.

Then, forecaster Michael Fish famously got it wrong when he told viewers that a hurricane was not on its way - just hours before it ripped through Britain.

Sean Penston at MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "This time around the event was quite well forecast, especially when you bear in mind that it wasn't even a physical entity when it was predicted.

"The forecasting models did really well in terms of mapping the storm and this is due to great improvements in computer power and our understanding of the physics of the atmosphere."