St Jude, dubbed the Great Storm of 2013, caused devastation as it swept across Britain Sunday night, with two people crushed to death by falling trees, another killed in a gas explosion and a boy missing after being swept out to sea.

Hundreds of thousands of homes have been left without power and rush-hour commuters suffered transport chaos as hurricane-force conditions battered Britain.

David Cameron called the injuries and deaths "hugely regrettable" but praised the preparation and response of emergency services.

storm

People watch the waves batter into the sea wall of a marina in Brighton, south England

On a visit to the Mini plant, the Prime Minister told reporters: "The emergency services, as ever, do a brilliant job. These are difficult things to handle because you don't know for certain how strong the storm will be.

"That really is the advice to people: things will get back to normal but make sure you consult the relevant websites before you travel."

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A man in his 50s was killed when a tree fell on the car he was driving in Watford, at around 6.50am, Hertfordshire Police said. Officers closed the road to deal with the incident but the man, from Harrow in north west London, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Meanwhile, a 17-year-old girl was killed in Hever, Kent, when a tree blew on to the caravan where she was sleeping at 7.18am. The teenager, named by sources as Bethany "Gia" Freeman, was crushed as the 30ft tree fell down in Lydens Lane, Hever, near Edenbridge, Kent, at 7.18am.

Bethany and her family were living in the caravans while renovation work was taking place at their home, according to two neighbours.

One of them, who declined to be named, said: "(The family) were planning to join up their two buildings, and they were living in the caravans in order to do it.

"I don't know who else was there. At the end of the day the tree has come down. I won't criticise anyone working there but not one of the emergency services had a chainsaw.

"It came down to the locals having chainsaws in order to cut a gap and also the local farmer having lifting gear."

The storm's third and fourth victims were found at an address in Hounslow, west London, which was devastated after a falling tree led to a suspected gas explosion this morning.

Five people and three dogs escaped from the properties before firefighters arrived and a man and two women were taken to hospital by London Ambulance Service. Two bodies were found by urban search and rescue crews, who searched the properties for any survivors.

Station Manager Matt Burrows, who was at the scene shortly after the incident, said: “Three houses were completely destroyed in the blast, debris was scattered over an area of about 50 metres, and the roof of one of the houses was in a tree across the road. Highly trained search and rescue crews searched through the rubble with sniffer dogs, and sadly two people were found dead.

“We’re still investigating whether the fallen tree caused the gas explosion or whether the gas explosion caused the tree to fall. It’s likely firefighters will be on scene for much of the rest of the day.”

hever kent 17yr old girl died

A 14-year-old boy feared dead after being swept into the sea in rough weather has been named by sources as Dylan Alkins. The teenager disappeared while playing in the surf at West Beach in Newhaven, East Sussex, at about 4.15pm on Sunday.

Rescue teams, including a Coastguard helicopter and an RNLI lifeboat, scoured the area in what were described as "atrocious conditions" with poor visibility.

An MCA spokeswoman said rescue teams had struggled in difficult conditions, and that police were with the boy's family who were "distraught".

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Several other people have been injured by falling debris. London Ambulance said a man in his 40s was taken to hospital with a shoulder injury after a tree fell on his motorbike in south-west London.

Up to 220,000 homes suffered power cuts as St Jude's storm with winds of almost 100mph pushed across the South West, South, South East, the Midlands and the East of England, UK Power Networks said.

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

storm uk

A fallen tree blocks a road due to the overnight storm in Brighton, southern England

On the London Underground, only three lines - Victoria, Hammersmith & City and Waterloo & City - were operating normally through the morning rush-hour.

There were no trains at all running on London Overground, while there were part -suspensions on the Central, District, Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines.

Asked if the train companies had overreacted to the risk posed by the storm, the Prime Minister said it was important that decisions were based on the evidence.

He said: "Everyone has to act on the basis of the evidence that they are given."

But he added: "Obviously afterwards we will be able to look back and see whether people made the right decisions.

"But right now what matters is listening to the evidence, working together and getting things back to normal."

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.


storm uk

A tree blocks the pavement outside the disused Strand station, London


The weather forecaster who famously failed to forecast one of Britain's worst storms in living memory joked that people would say it served him right that today's wind blew down a tree in his garden.

Michael Fish - who told television viewers there was not a hurricane on the way hours before a huge storm ravaged parts of England in 1987 - said even his wife blamed him for the damage.

But he also hailed the accuracy of new computer models which he said had allowed the Met Office to predict the latest weather front and prevent "horrendous loss of life".

"I had a phone call from my wife not so long ago and of course it was my fault that a tree has apparently gone down in my garden and over the neighbour's garage," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"So even I don't escape and I can hear some of you saying 'serves him right!'."

Loading Slideshow...
  • Autumn weather Oct 28th

    EDITORS NOTE NUMBER PLATE PIXELATED BY PA PICTURE DESK: A general view of the scene in Hever, Kent, where a 17-year-old girl was killed when a tree blew on to the caravan where she was sleeping.

  • Autumn weather Oct 28th

    A general view of police tape at the scene in Hever, Kent, where a 17-year-old girl was killed when a tree blew on to the caravan where she was sleeping.

  • Autumn weather Oct 28th

    A general view of police at the scene in Hever, Kent, where a 17-year-old girl was killed when a tree blew on to the caravan where she was sleeping.

  • Autumn weather Oct 28th

    A general view of police tape at the scene in Hever, Kent, where a 17-year-old girl was killed when a tree blew on to the caravan where she was sleeping.

  • Autumn weather Oct 28th

    A lady with a child in a pram gets an unwelcomed soaking from a passing car in Gateacre, Liverpool after heavy rain fell over the country.

  • Autumn weather Oct 28th

    Cars pass through flood waters after heavy rain fell in Gateacre, Liverpool.

  • Autumn weather Oct 28th

    A lady with a child in a pram gets an unwelcomed soaking from a passing car in Gateacre, Liverpool after heavy rain fell over the country.

  • Autumn weather Oct 28th

    Damaged cars on Francis Road in Leyton, east London, where scaffolding was blown down in the high winds, as the worst storm in years lashed the UK.

  • Autumn weather Oct 28th

    Damaged cars on Francis Road in Leyton, east London, where scaffolding was blown down in the high winds, as the worst storm in years lashed the UK.

  • Autumn weather Oct 28th

    Damaged cars on Francis Road in Leyton, east London, where scaffolding was blown down in the high winds, as the worst storm in years lashed the UK.

  • Autumn weather Oct 28th

    Damaged brick work on Francis Road in Leyton, east London, where scaffolding was blown down in the high winds, as the worst storm in years lashed the UK.

  • Autumn weather Oct 28th

    A lady with a child in a pram gets an unwelcomed soaking from a passing car in Gateacre, Liverpool after heavy rain fell over the country.

  • Scotland Escapes 'St Jude' Storm

    TROON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Members of the public walk along the Troon South beach on October 28, 2013 in Troon, Scotland. Scotland is set to miss the effects of the storm which is hitting the south of Britain, with gusts of 80mph winds causing travel disruption. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Strong Winds And Heavy Rain Hit England and Wales

    DOVER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: A child is blown over as large waves, produced by storm force winds, break against the harbour wall on October 28, 2013 in Dover, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places.. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

  • Strong Winds And Heavy Rain Hit England and Wales

    HOVE, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: A tree blocks the road after an overnight storm on October 28, 2013 in Hove, United Kingdom. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

  • Strong Winds And Heavy Rain Hit England and Wales

    HOVE, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: A tree blocks the road after an overnight storm on October 28, 2013 in Hove, United Kingdom. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

  • Strong Winds And Heavy Rain Hit England and Wales

    HOVE, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: A tree blocks the road after an overnight storm on October 28, 2013 in Hove, United Kingdom. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

  • Strong Winds And Heavy Rain Hit England and Wales

    HOVE, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: A tree blocks the road after an overnight storm on October 28, 2013 in Hove, United Kingdom. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

  • FRANCE-WEATHER-ENERGY

    An electric company worker repairs power lines damaged during an overnight storm which passed over northwestern France and Britain, on October 28, 2013, in Fourches, northwestern France. More than 300,000 homes were left without power in Britain and France today and trains and planes were cancelled as a superstorm battered the region, leaving at least one person dead. AFP PHOTO / CHARLY TRIBALLEAU (Photo credit should read CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Strong Winds And Heavy Rain Hit England and Wales

    UNSPECIFIED, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Barclays cycle hire bikes are submerged by a fallen tree as Britain faces travel chaos after severe weather conditions on October 28, 2013 in Lambeth, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • Strong Winds And Heavy Rain Hit England and Wales

    LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 28: A fallen tree blocks a road as Britain faces travel chaos after severe weather conditions on October 28, 2013 in Lambeth, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • Strong Winds And Heavy Rain Hit England and Wales

    LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 28: A fallen tree is pictured as Britain faces travel chaos after severe weather conditions on October 28, 2013 in Lambeth, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • Strong Winds And Heavy Rain Hit England and Wales

    LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 28: Barclays cycle hire bike cycle station is submerged by a fallen tree as Britain faces travel chaos after severe weather conditions on October 28, 2013 in Lambeth, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • Strong Winds And Heavy Rain Hit England and Wales

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: A fallen tree has caused a devastating gas explosion in west London, destroying three homes in Bath Road, Hounslow on October 28, 2013 in London, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • Strong Winds And Heavy Rain Hit England and Wales

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: People walk past the debris of fallen trees in Bath Road, Hounslow on October 28, 2013 in London, England. A fallen tree has caused a devastating gas explosion in west London, destroying three homes Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • Strong Winds And Heavy Rain Hit England and Wales

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: A car crushed by a fallen tree, following an overnight storm across southern England, in Camden Square on October 28, 2013 in London, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Marion Macdonald/Getty Images)

  • Strong Winds And Heavy Rain Hit England and Wales

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Firefighters begin securing the area after a fallen tree has caused a devastating gas explosion in west London, destroying three homes in Bath Road, Hounslow on October 28, 2013 in London, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • Strong Winds And Heavy Rain Hit England and Wales

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: Firefighters begin securing the area after a fallen tree has caused a devastating gas explosion in west London, destroying three homes in Bath Road, Hounslow on October 28, 2013 in London, England. Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • Strong Winds And Heavy Rain Hit England and Wales

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 28: People walk past the debris of fallen trees in Bath Road, Hounslow on October 28, 2013 in London, England. A fallen tree has caused a devastating gas explosion in west London, destroying three homes Approximately 220,000 homes are without power and two deaths have been recorded after much of southern England has been affected by a severe storm. Transport links on road, rail, air and sea have been severely disrupted by hurricane-force winds that have almost reached 100 mph in places. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER

    Waves crash on the sea wall behind The Cobb in Lyme Regis, southern England, on October 28, 2013 after a storm struck. More than 300,000 homes were left without power across northern Europe and trains and planes cancelled as a fierce storm battered the region, leaving at least three people dead. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER

    Fire fighters use a crane to survey a house struck by a fallen tree following a storom in Hounslow, west London, on October 28, 2013. More than 300,000 homes were left without power across northern Europe and trains and planes cancelled as a fierce storm battered the region, leaving at least three people dead. AFP PHOTO/BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER

    Fire fighters survey a house struck by a fallen tree following a storom in Hounslow, west London, on October 28, 2013. More than 300,000 homes were left without power across northern Europe and trains and planes cancelled as a fierce storm battered the region, leaving at least three people dead. AFP PHOTO/BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER

    Traffic queues on a main route into London by the towers of London's financial district Canary Wharf on October 28, 2013 after a strong storm causes travel disruption. Britain faced travel chaos on October 28 and over 200,000 homes were without power as one of the worst storms in years battered southern England, sweeping at least one person out to sea. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER

    A construction crane lays on top of the cabinet office government building after collapsing in high winds during a storm in central London on October 28, 2013. Britain faced travel chaos on October 28 and over 200,000 homes were without power as one of the worst storms in years battered southern England, sweeping at least one person out to sea. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER

    A construction crane lays on top of the cabinet office government building after collapsing in high winds during a storm in central London on October 28, 2013. Britain faced travel chaos on October 28 and over 200,000 homes were without power as one of the worst storms in years battered southern England, sweeping at least one person out to sea. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER

    A cyclist passes as a construction crane lays on top of the cabinet office government building after collapsing in high winds during a storm in central London on October 28, 2013. Britain faced travel chaos on October 28 and over 200,000 homes were without power as one of the worst storms in years battered southern England, sweeping at least one person out to sea. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER

    A passerby takes a picture of a construction crane lying on top of the cabinet office government building after collapsing in high winds during a storm in central London on October 28, 2013. Britain faced travel chaos on October 28 and over 200,000 homes were without power as one of the worst storms in years battered southern England, sweeping at least one person out to sea. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER

    Traffic queues on a main route into London by the towers of London's financial district Canary Wharf (L) on October 28, 2013 after a strong storm causes travel disruption. Britain faced travel chaos on October 28 and over 200,000 homes were without power as one of the worst storms in years battered southern England, sweeping at least one person out to sea. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER

    A fallen tree blocks a road due to the overnight storm in Brighton, southern England on October 28, 2013. Britain faced travel chaos on October 28 and over 200,000 homes were without power as one of the worst storms in years battered southern England, sweeping at least one person out to sea. AFP PHOTO/GLYN KIRK (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER

    A fallen tree blocks a road due to the overnight storm in Brighton, southern England on October 28, 2013. Britain faced travel chaos on October 28 and over 200,000 homes were without power as one of the worst storms in years battered southern England, sweeping at least one person out to sea. AFP PHOTO/GLYN KIRK (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER

    A fallen tree blocks a road due to the overnight storm in Brighton, southern England on October 28, 2013. Britain faced travel chaos on October 28 and over 200,000 homes were without power as one of the worst storms in years battered southern England, sweeping at least one person out to sea. AFP PHOTO/GLYN KIRK (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER

    A fallen tree blocks a road due to the overnight storm in Brighton, southern England on October 28, 2013. Britain faced travel chaos on October 28 and over 200,000 homes were without power as one of the worst storms in years battered southern England, sweeping at least one person out to sea. AFP PHOTO/GLYN KIRK (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER

    A fallen tree blocks a road due to the overnight storm in Brighton, southern England on October 28, 2013. Britain faced travel chaos on October 28 and over 200,000 homes were without power as one of the worst storms in years battered southern England, sweeping at least one person out to sea. AFP PHOTO/GLYN KIRK (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER

    A fallen tree blocks a road due to the overnight storm in Brighton, southern England on October 28, 2013. Britain faced travel chaos on October 28 and over 200,000 homes were without power as one of the worst storms in years battered southern England, sweeping at least one person out to sea. AFP PHOTO/GLYN KIRK (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-WEATHER

    A fallen tree blocks a road due to the overnight storm in Brighton, southern England on October 28, 2013. Britain faced travel chaos on October 28 and over 200,000 homes were without power as one of the worst storms in years battered southern England, sweeping at least one person out to sea. AFP PHOTO/GLYN KIRK (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Autumn weather Oct 28th

    A car is crushed under a fallen tree due to the storm affecting parts of the UK, in Hornsey, north London.

  • Autumn weather Oct 28th

    A car is crushed under a fallen tree due to the storm affecting parts of the UK, in Hornsey, north London.

  • Autumn weather Oct 28th

    A car is crushed under a fallen tree due to the storm affecting parts of the UK, in Hornsey, north London.

  • Autumn weather Oct 28th

    A car is crushed under a fallen tree due to the storm affecting parts of the UK, in Hornsey, north London.

  • Autumn weather Oct 28th

    A fallen tree in St George's Square, Pimlico, London, as more than 40,000 homes are without power and commuters are facing severe travel disruption after the worst storm in years lashed the UK.

  • Autumn weather Oct 28th

    A fallen tree in St George's Square, Pimlico, London, as more than 40,000 homes are without power and commuters are facing severe travel disruption after the worst storm in years lashed the UK.