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British storms claim lives, cause travel chaos

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Transport networks suffered major disruption and more than 140,000 homes were without power across storm-battered Britain on Saturday after the country's latest severe weather claimed two lives.

With southern England the worst affected by Britain's wettest start to a year in two and a half centuries, London's Heathrow airport said some plane services had been cancelled.

Train services were also stopped and roads gridlocked after the storms uprooted trees.

Work was being carried out to restore power to more than 140,000 properties, said the Energy Networks Association, which added that electricity had been re-connected to 310,000 properties.

Police said that a woman had died and a man was in hospital after part of a building collapsed onto their parked car close to London's West End theatre district late on Friday.

Out on the English Channel, high winds sent a "freak wave" smashing through a window of a cruise ship causing the death of an 85-year-old man, the ship's operator said.

More than 30 people were rescued from a flooded seafront restaurant in Milford on Sea, southern England, after wind-blown shingle shattered windows.

And with parts of the swollen River Thames expected to reach its highest level in 60 years over the weekend, Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday reiterated his promise to do "whatever it takes" to help stricken communities following criticism of the government's initial response to the flooding crisis.

More than 2,000 army, navy and air force personnel have now been deployed across Britain to help flood-hit communities, and 70 percent of England's fire and rescue services are working on the flood and storm effort.

Elsewhere, Bank of England governor Mark Carney has warned that Britain's fragile recovery from recession would be affected as the bad weather hits farming and transport.

On the other side of the channel, some 70,000 French homes were without power as meteorologists registered winds of up to 150 kilometres per hour (90 miles per hour).

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140215/british-storms-claim-lives-cause-travel-chaos-0