North West storms: Man knocked unconscious by fence panel

Loyola Hall Jesuit Retreat and Spirituality Centre in Rainhill, Merseyside A tree destroys a part of Loyola Hall Jesuit Retreat and Spirituality Centre in Rainhill, Merseyside

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A man was knocked out by a flying fence panel as winds of up to 100mph (160km/h) battered the North West.

Firefighters found the man, who suffered a head injury, in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, while attending calls in the area on Wednesday night.

More than 2,500 homes are without power and some roads remain closed because of debris and unsafe buildings.

Police are looking at whether a driver was killed because he swerved to avoid a tree which was partially in the road.

A vehicle being taken away by a recovery truck following a collision in Macclesfield, Cheshire A 33-year-old man was killed in a crash in Farm Lane, Macclesfield

Cheshire Police said it was "highly likely" the tree had fallen during the winds.

The 33-year-old man's VW Golf collided with a Range Rover in Farm Lane, Lower Withington, in Macclesfield, Cheshire, at about 07:10 GMT. He died at the scene.

Firefighters freed a 46-year-old woman who was trapped in the front passenger seat of the Range Rover before she was taken to hospital.

The driver, a woman aged 43, was also treated in hospital.

The Met Office issued its first red severe weather warning this winter on Wednesday as gale-force winds swept across the North West, bringing chaos to the region.

Stanley Park, Blackpool A tree in Stanley Park in Blackpool was uprooted during the gale-force winds

At its peak on Wednesday, about 11,000 homes lost power supplies between 21:00 and 22:00 GMT, Electricity North West said.

'Nasty event'

It said the majority of the 2,500 homes still affected were in Cumbria and more than 400 engineers were repairing the damage.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service took 491 calls between 16:00 on Wednesday and 00:30 on Thursday, with 200 calls in a two-hour period.

Warren Pickstone, area manager, said: "We even had [an incident] where one of our officers came across a gentleman who had been unconscious as it appeared a fence panel had landed on his head.

"It was a pretty nasty event really."

The man suffered a head injury and has since been discharged from hospital.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service received 300 calls with a large number of incidents involving unsafe structures.

Some train services have also been cancelled.

Larkholme Parade, Fleetwood, Lancashire A clean-up operation is under way after a staircase collapsed in Empress Street, Manchester

National Rail said high winds and heavy rain caused flooding and blocked some lines with trees and debris.

Most train services have now resumed but bus replacement services are operating on affected routes.

Liverpool Coastguard reported no incidents during the strong winds.

However, earlier it advised a number of people, mainly those living in Cumbria, to stay indoors.

Snow warning

Irish Sea ferry crossings for passengers and freight between Heysham and the Isle of Man sailed at 08:00.

Blackpool trams are now operating as normal, after they stopped when illuminations displays fell on to power lines.

Larkholme Parade, Fleetwood, Lancashire Debris from Larkholme Parade shopping area in Fleetwood, Lancashire

The winds have subsided but the Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for snow over higher ground in the North West later.

Meteorologists said up to 10cm (3.9in) of snow was expected over higher ground, with blizzard conditions predicted on higher roads.

Motorists were warned to be aware of possible travel disruptions.

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