Storm damage: Thousands still without power

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Thousands of people are still without electricity after the storm that hit southern Britain.

On Monday 660,000 homes were affected, but that figure was down to 16,900 as of 11:30 GMT on Wednesday, the Energy Networks Association said.

Heavy rain and winds of more than 70mph (112 km/h) hit parts of the country, and four people are known to have died.

The conditions brought major rail and road disruption, but Network Rail said on Wednesday that all lines were open.

Bethany Freeman, 17, suffered fatal injuries when a tree came down on the caravan she was sleeping in Hever, near Edenbridge, Kent, at about 07:20 GMT on Monday.

Her mother, Tess Peirce, has released a statement, saying: "We are all absolutely devastated at the loss of my daughter.

"I would like to thank the emergency services for their tremendous efforts in attempting to save her."

Donal Drohan, 51, from Harrow, was pronounced dead at the scene after a tree crushed a red Peugeot at Lower High Street in Watford, Hertfordshire, at 06:50 GMT.

Bethany Freeman Bethany Freeman was staying in a caravan next to her family home

And a couple, Suhail Akhtar, 46, and Dorota Kolasinska, 34, died in Hounslow, west London following a suspected gas explosion after a tree fell during high winds.

Hackney Council, which employed Ms Kolasinska as a traffic light sequencer, described her as "extremely popular and hard-working".

Power cuts

The Energy Networks Association said about 660,000 homes had lost supply during the storm.

A spokesman said around 15,000 properties were reconnected overnight on Tuesday, leaving 19,400 households still without power on Wednesday morning.

UK Power Networks said 14,000 of those were in the eastern part of England and a further 3,000 in the south-eastern region.

The remaining homes without power are in "small isolated pockets" of the south, the Energy Networks Association said, with around 900 of those in the Salisbury, Aldershot and Basingstoke areas.

The Woodland Trust said while the impact of the storm had been not as severe as the one in 1987, the geographical spread was potentially wider.

"Around 20 of our sites have been affected, including sites in Devon, Cornwall, Kent, Sussex and Hertfordshire," said Norman Starks, UK operations director for the conservation charity.

"Less woods appear to have been affected this time and it has tended to be individual trees or small groups of trees.

"We already know that the impact of the 2013 storm has been not as severe as the 1987 and 1990 storms, which destroyed a total of around 20 million mature trees in England."

Search and rescue teams looking at a sea wall by West Beach in Newhaven, East Sussex, where 14-year-old Dylan Alkins vanished on Sunday The search continued earlier in the sea off Newhaven, East Sussex, where 14-year-old Dylan Alkins vanished
A collapsed pedestrian bridge at London Bridge Station The roof of a pedestrian bridge which collapsed during strong winds outside London Bridge Station in London
'Emotional vigil'

Initial estimates of the level of financial damage caused by the storm are not expected until later this week, the Association of British Insurers said.

BBC weather forecasters said in more populous areas including Lyneham, near Swindon, Yeovilton in Somerset and Hurn, near Bournemouth, speeds of 74-75mph (119-121km/h) had been recorded on Monday.

The strongest gust of 99mph (160km/h) during the storm was recorded at Needles Old Battery, Isle of Wight, at 05:00 GMT.

Eight people died as the storm swept through France, Germany and the Netherlands after it moved out of the UK.

The search for a 14-year-old boy - who has been named as Dylan Alkins - who was swept away in Newhaven, East Sussex, on Sunday is continuing.

On Tuesday his friends held an emotional vigil on the beach where he was last seen alive.

Up to 50 youngsters gathered at West Beach in Newhaven, East Sussex, two days after he vanished while playing in the surf.

They released balloons with hand-written messages on them and threw flowers into the sea in tribute to Dylan.

One of his friends, Aaron Gilbert, 15, said: "I couldn't believe it. I was hoping it was just a bad dream.

"We would come down every day in the summer but I never thought he would come down when it was really rough. I wish I could have stopped him."

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