UK is battered by hurricane-force winds

Heavy rains and 160 kph winds slam England on St Jude's Day, the patron saint of desperate causes.

    The worst storm in several years has battered the United Kingdom, bringing heavy rain, hurricane-force gusts of wind and and widespread transport disruption.

    The storm brought gusts of wind as high as 160 kph on the Isle of Wight, on the south coast of England. Over 100,000 people are believed to have lost power in the wild weather and hundreds of trees have been ripped down.

    Coastguard and police rescuers searched late on Sunday for the boy in high seas with poor visibility, but after several hours coastguards said it had turned into a recovery operation.Officials said a 14-year-old boy is feared dead after being swept out to sea while apparently playing in the surf in southern England.

    Prime Minister David Cameron chaired a meeting between the Environment Agency, forecasters and government departments on Sunday to discuss contingency plans for the storm's impact.

    At least 100 flights were cancelled at Heathrow airport and rail networks cancelled trains citing the high risk of trees and other debris expected to fall on train lines.

    Eurostar said it would not be able to run any cross-Channel rail services until 7am on Monday to allow for train lines to be inspected.

    Storms and strong winds also battered parts of northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

    "The thing that's unusual about this one is that most of our storms develop out over the Atlantic so that they've done all their strengthening and deepening by the time they reach us," Met Office spokeswoman Helen Chivers said.

    "This one is developing as it crosses the UK, which is why it brings the potential for significant disruption ... and that doesn't happen very often."

    The storm is being dubbed St Jude as it coincides with the Feast day of the patron saint of desperate causes.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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