• Worst storm in decade lashes Britain, France

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    LONDON: Britain faced travel chaos on Monday and some 75,000 homes were without electricity in northern France as one of the worst storms in years battered the region, sweeping at least one person out to sea.

    Britain’s national weather center the Met Office warned of falling trees, damage to buildings and disruption to power supplies and transport as the storm hit England’s southwest coast late Sunday.

    Between 20 and 40 millimeters (0.8 to 1.6 inches) of rain were predicted to fall within six to nine hours as the storm tracked eastwards across Britain, with a chance of localized flooding.

    Wind gusts of up to 99 miles (159 kilometers) per hour whipped across southern England and south Wales on Monday, forecasters said.

    The Met Office issued an “amber” wind warning for the region, the third highest in a four-level scale, and urged people to delay their Monday morning journeys to work to avoid the worst of the bad weather.

    In northern France, the storm left some 75,000 homes without power early Monday, according to the ERDF distribution network, after wind gusts reached 139 kilometers in some areas knocking down power lines.

    The rough conditions led to rescuers suspending the search for a 14-year-old boy who was washed out to sea from a beach in East Sussex on England’s south coast.

    London looked set for a chaotic rush-hour after train companies First Capital Connect, C2C, Greater Anglia, Southern and Gatwick Express services all said they would not run services on Monday until it was safe to do so. That is unlikely to be before 9 a.m. (0900 GMT), according to forecasts.

    Robin Gisby from line operator Network Rail warned commuters to expect severe disruption.

    “If we get through this in the morning, restore the service during the afternoon and are able to start up a good service on Tuesday morning, in the circumstances I’ll be pretty pleased,” he added.

    Major airports also warned of disruption to flights with London hub Heathrow expecting approximately 30 cancellations.

    AFP

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