Irishman among four dead as violent storm batters southern England and Wales

Waterford man killed when tree falls on his car in Watford

Mon, Oct 28, 2013, 22:00

A 51-year-old man originally from Waterford, died after a tree fell on his car as he drove through Watford, north of London, shortly before 7am today. Mr Drohan had been living in Harrow.

Hurricane strength winds battered Britain and the Netherlands, cutting power and forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights and train journeys before the storm barrelled further into mainland Europe.

Gusts of up to 160km/h lashed southern England and Wales in the worst storm recorded in Britain in a decade, while Denmark and Sweden were bracing for the impact there.

Hurricane-force winds batter British coastline

Tributes have been paid to Mr Drohan, described as “a loving husband and father of three”. His family said: “He was the best husband and father anyone could wish for. You couldn’t find anyone who had a bad word to say about him. He was very supportive to everybody who knew him and couldn’t say no to helping out with anything. He was an active member of the community who was involved with local groups and had recently helped Team Harrow of The Challenge Network helping to shape the lives of hundreds of young people within the local community.”

Mr Drohan was a long-serving local authority employee.

Susan Hall, leader of Harrow Council, said: “This is an absolute tragedy and everyone is devastated. Donal was one of our public realm managers and had worked for us for nearly 25 years. He was always cheerful, and passionate about his job keeping our streets clean. His council colleagues are finding this very hard to deal with. Our thoughts are with Donal’s family both here and in Ireland. ”

Bethany Freeman (17) was also killed as she lay sleeping when a tree fell on to the caravan she and her family were living in while renovation work was taking place at their home at Edenbridge in Kent.

A man and a woman were found dead in west London after several houses were damaged in a suspected gas explosion on a street where the storm blew a tree down. London police said the tree may have damaged gas pipes, causing the explosion.

A crane smashed into the Cabinet Office, a ministry in the heart of London, forcing British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg to cancel a news conference.

Heavy winds also swept across the low-lying Netherlands, shutting down all train traffic to Amsterdam. Hurricane-force winds of more than 150 kph were recorded on one of the islands off the northern Dutch coast.

Uprooted trees smashed cars, homes and sank a houseboat along an Amsterdam canal. Roofs were blown off buildings and several houseboats were ripped off their moorings, police said.

A woman was killed and two people were seriously hurt by falling trees in the Dutch capital and a ferry carrying 1,000 people from the English city of Newcastle was unable to dock in the port of IJmuiden and returned to sea, RTL television said.

Fifty flights at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport were cancelled and Rotterdam Port, Europe’s busiest, said incoming and outgoing vessels were delayed.

In France, winds topping 100 kph struck the north and northwest, felling trees, whipping up seas and cutting power supplies to about 75,000 homes, according to the ERDF electricity distribution company.

Helicopters and a sea-rescue team searched for a 47-year-old woman swept out to sea by a wave during a cliff sortie on Belle Ile, an island off Brittany where high winds generated waves of 5-6 metres, according to the coastguard in the region.

Aer Lingus has been forced to cancel a number of flights to and from the UK due to the severe weather conditions.

The airline said it had cancelled eight of its flights between Dublin, Cork, Belfast and London Heathrow. Ryanair also cautioned passengers of likely delays and cancellations.

The Irish Ferries Jonathan Swift fast-craft sailings between Dublin and Holyhead were also cancelled.