Four left dead by killer storm

A 17-year-old girl was among four people killed as hurricane-force winds battered England, leaving a trail of destruction and disruption.

Bethany "Gia" Freeman was crushed as a 30ft tree fell on the static home where she was sleeping in Hever, near Edenbridge, Kent, at 7.18am.

"Loving husband" and father-of-three Donal Drohan, 51, originally from Waterford in Ireland, died after his car was hit by a tree at the bridge over the River Colne in Watford.

Two killed as storm wreaks havoc

Two killed as storm wreaks havoc
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A man in his 40s and a woman also died, trapped under rubble when an uprooted tree caused a gas blast in Hounslow, west London.

During the morning, winds of up to 100mph swept through the South West, South, South East, the Midlands and the East of England after first hitting land in the early hours.

The storm, dubbed St Jude after the patron of lost causes, also caused transport disruption on road, rail, air and sea, and power cuts for hundreds of thousands of homes.

Hitting the mainland in the early hours, it left Bethany 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.

Known as "Gia", she was a was a "universally respected" sixth-form pupil at Tunbridge Wells Grammar School who "had everything to look forward to", the school's website said.

There were tragic scenes as her driving instructor arrived at her home in Lydens Lane to pick her up without knowing she had died.

Mr Drohan, from Harrow, west London, was "in the wrong place at the wrong time" when his car was struck by a falling tree at Lower High Street.

An officer who attended the scene said that a millisecond's difference would have made for "a different story".

The Harrow council worker's 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."

In Hounslow, three houses were completely destroyed and two more were damaged by the blast, thought to have been caused by a ruptured gas main .

Officers were called to Bath Road at around 7.30am and at noon they found the male victim's body at number 47 amid "scenes of devastation".

An hour and a half later, a woman - whom investigators were trying to identify - was found dead at the same property .

Later in the day, 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.

The Energy Networks Association said 459,000 homes which suffered power cuts across England have had energy restored, but 166,000 were still disconnected.

The port of Dover in Kent had to be shut, train and Tube services were disrupted, more than 130 flights at Heathrow Airport were cancelled and many roads were impassable due to fallen trees.

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

The Environment Agency said there were four flood warnings and 99 flood alerts still in place.

Met Office spokeswoman Laura Young warned that blustery conditions were expected to remain in London and the East Midlands.

She said: "Although the amber warning is over, there are still strong winds and the impacts from earlier in the day are still around.

"People need to stay aware, keep an eye on the forecast and remain alert to the situation."

Experts said that, while the gales were relatively weak compared with the Great Storm of 1987, it had shown how much weather predictions have improved compared with 26 years ago.