Three die as storm sweeps across UK
Hurricane-force winds disrupted power and transport networks across southern Britain Monday as one of the strongest storms in decades hit the country during rush-hour.
Various media reports suggest that up to 270,000 households were without power in the UK and major rail networks were running a restricted service or had stopped trains until 9 a.m. London time.
So far, according to media reports, the storm has claimed three lives: a 17-year-old girl died after her house was destroyed in south-east England, a man was killed when his car was hit by a falling tree in Hertfordshire, north of London, while another was found dead in west London after a falling tree caused a suspected gas explosion..
The storm has been accompanied by severe rain causing flood warnings and bridge closures. Felled trees as a result of the severe winds have caused damage and road closures and sea routes have been affected. The Port of Dover in southeast England was shut throughout most of the morning..
The country's Meteorological Office issued warnings for much of the south of England and recorded winds of 99 miles per hour (mph) off the south coast's Isle of Wight on Monday morning.
Dubbed "St. Jude" by local media after the patron saint of lost causes who is traditionally celebrated on Oct. 28, the storm also caused chaos at the region's major airports, Gatwick and Heathrow.
Airlines including British Airways were instructed to reduce their flight schedules by 20 percent until 11:00a.m and international airport Heathrow said 130 flights had been cancelled on Monday.
The London Stock Exchange was open as usual despite the forecast, however, one senior market analyst, Michael Hewson, warned that insurance companies could be impacted by the storm.
"I can't imagine there will be too many problems, assuming that there isn't too much damage to infrastructure caused by the high winds and fallen trees. I would hasten to suggest that insurance companies may be more concerned about the storm than energy companies if a lot of claims start to come in," Hewson added.
The storm-strength winds swept into the capital at the height of the rush hour with the damage count mounting. U.K. Secretary of State for Wales David Jones tweeted a picture showing a collapsed crane on top of the Cabinet Office in London's Whitehall.
Police in the south east county of Kent have tweeted that the disruption to road routes could continue.
The country's meteorological agency said that advances in forecasting technology had allowed it to predict Monday's storm well in advance.
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