Two dead as Storm Dennis batters the UK with high winds

15 February 2020, 15:29

-Man found dead hours after going overboard from tanker
-Teenager dead after entering sea in Kent
-Storm Dennis battering Britain with ‘danger to life’ weather warnings in place
-Hundreds of flights cancelled with winds of over 90mph expected

Porthcawl, Wales, is bearing the brunt of Storm Dennis
Porthcawl, Wales, is bearing the brunt of Storm Dennis. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

A teenager is confirmed to have died after being pulled from the ocean during Storm Dennis, as high winds lash much of Britain.

Emergency services and a search and rescue helicopter were scrambled to the scene at Herne Bay, Kent, shortly after 12pm today.

But despite all best efforts, the teen - believed to be 18 or 19 - could not be saved.

A spokesperson for Kent Police said: "Kent Police was called at 12.15pm on Saturday 15 February 2020 to a report a person had been pulled from the sea in Herne Bay.

"Officers attended alongside the Kent Fire and Rescue Service and the South East Coast Ambulance Service where a man was declared deceased at the scene.

"The next of kin are aware. The death is not being treated as suspicious and a report will be prepared for the coroner."

Another man has also died during the storms after he is believed to have fallen overboard a Maltese tanker that was moored just off the coast.

A distress call was issued from the vessel in the early hours of the morning, and a body was found after a seven hour search.

A coastguard spokesman said: "At around 1pm, after many hours of searching, a body was sadly found in the water by the RNLI Margate lifeboat and has been brought to shore."

In Calderdale, West Yorkshire, 75 soldiers have been deployed to help locals who are facing floods for the second weekend in a row.

The Government said it would use "all means" to help any communities that are hit by flooding.

A further 70 reservists from the 4th Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, were sent to help wherever required.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "Our armed forces are always ready to support local authorities and communities whenever they need it.

"The rapid response of the Army today will help with provision of flood relief to local communities in West Yorkshire.

"The Government won't hesitate to use all means at its disposal to mitigate the effects of Storm Dennis."

Soldiers have been deployed in West Yorkshire to asssit with the flood defences
Soldiers have been deployed in West Yorkshire to asssit with the flood defences. Picture: PA
Flood defences are prepared in Mytholmroyd, in the Upper Calder Valley in West Yorkshire,
Flood defences are prepared in Mytholmroyd, in the Upper Calder Valley in West Yorkshire,. Picture: PA

Colonel Nigel Rhodes, Deputy Commander of 4th Infantry Brigade and HQ North East, said soldiers were happy to help.

"Troops will remain on task as long as required," he said.

"4th Infantry Brigade is based in Catterick and serves the communities of Yorkshire and the North East and are happy to be doing our bit and contributing to the swift response from the civil agencies."

More than 230 easyJet flights in and out of the UK on Saturday have been cancelled, while several sporting fixtures were also called off due to the weather.

The US National Weather Service's Ocean Prediction Centre reported winds up to 92mph and waves that could reach more than 100ft (30m) high across the North Atlantic early on Saturday.

Forecasters were expecting winds to reach 70mph along coastlines, while some parts of the country could witness up to 4.7in (12cm) of rain.

Experts have warned that conditions amount to a "perfect storm", with hundreds of homes at risk of flooding.

The Met Office has issued eight weather warnings covering most of the UK this weekend.

This includes amber warnings from midday on Saturday over southern Scotland, northern England, Wales and part of the South West saying that flooding could cause a danger to life.

A spokesman for British Airways said they are "merging a small number of Heathrow short-haul flights to the same destination and using larger aircraft where possible to minimise disruption", while a spokeswoman for easyJet confirmed 234 cancellations.

Ryanair said all its flights are operating as normal.

A spokeswoman for Heathrow Airport said: "To minimise the number of flights cancelled at short notice we have taken the joint decision, alongside our airline and air traffic partners, to pre-emptively consolidate today's schedule."

A spokesman for Luton Airport said the airport is "fully operational", but added that "a number of cancellations" are expected later on Saturday.

The EA said flooding is likely to be worse than under last weekend's Storm Ciara due to rain falling on already saturated ground.

In England alone, 800 properties were left flooded when Storm Ciara struck, the EA said.

North Wales Police said very high winds had led to debris and branches falling off trees and Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said it had rescued a motorist from a car stuck in flood water in the Liskeard area.

Power cuts are also expected and there is a good chance that train and buses will see cancellations or delays and roads closed.

The Met Office said the "main areas of concern" on Saturday are north and south-west England and Wales, with the South East bearing the brunt more on Sunday.

At just after 1pm on Saturday, there were 17 flood warnings - meaning flooding is "expected" - and more than 180 flood alerts - meaning flooding is possible - in places across the country.

Flood defences are due to be in operation this weekend, with additional temporary flood barriers being installed in Shropshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Surrey.

More than 500 staff are on active incident duty and 30 mobile pumps have been deployed, the EA said.

Network Rail has advised passengers to expect disruption on many routes due to flooding and to allow more time for their journeys.

Meanwhile, people living near the railway are being urged to secure any loose items in their gardens, after several trampolines were blown on to tracks and overhead electric wires last weekend, blocking lines.

In Ireland, Met Eireann has issued warnings for the whole country, with severe gusts of up to 74mph (120km) possible in Donegal, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Sligo, Clare, Cork, Kerry and Limerick.

More to follow...