independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Irishman among St Jude storm dead

Donal Drohan died as he drove through Watford in Hertfordshire, England (Hertfordshire Police/PA)

A man from Ireland is among the four people who have died after hurricane-force conditions battered Britain.

Donal Drohan, 51, who was originally from Waterford but lived in Harrow, west London, died as he drove through Watford in Hertfordshire, England.

He was in the "wrong place at the wrong time", an officer who attended the scene said, adding that a millisecond's difference would have made for "a different story".

The victim died after his car was struck by a falling tree at the eastern end of the bridge over the River Colne on Lower High Street.

Meanwhile, the bodies of two people were found at an address in Hounslow, west London, after a falling tree led to a suspected gas explosion.

Detectives found the body of a man, in his 40s, at the home in Bath Road at around noon . He has been identified and next of kin have been informed.

The woman was found dead an hour and a half later and police were working to establish her identity.

The fourth victim, 17-year-old Bethany Freeman, was killed as she slept in a static caravan. She was crushed as a 30ft tree fell on the caravans she and her family were living in while renovation work was taking place at their home at Edenbridge in Kent.

Hundreds of thousands of homes were 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 away from Norfolk and over the North Sea to continental Europe, leaving a trail of destruction and disruption behind it.

The storm, dubbed St Jude after the patron of lost causes, caused traffic problems on road, rail, air and sea in Wales and England.

Many train services were cancelled and some were still struggling to return to normal late in the afternoon.

Some 300,000 homes suffered power cuts.

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

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.

Press Association

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