Strong winds cause disruption around UK

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Media captionWinds have caused damage around the country

Thousands of homes and businesses are still without power after strong winds caused disruption and damage in the UK.

Some 7,000 homes remain affected in Scotland following Tuesday's storms, as well as 8,500 in the East and West Midlands, and 500 in south-east Wales.

BBC weather forecasters said high winds of up to 70mph on Thursday evening would continue to ease into Friday.

Part of the Welsh National Library's roof was damaged when a sheet the "size of two tennis courts" came loose.

The Met Office earlier issued warnings of wind for Wales, Northern Ireland, south-western Scotland and north-west England, but later lifted them.

In other developments:

  • The QEII bridge, linking the M25 between Essex and Kent, reopens after being shut for a second time this week because of gale-force winds, causing traffic delays of up to two hours
  • Two rail passengers in Scotland suffer minor injuries after a train hits a tree on the line
  • The Environment Agency warns of localised flooding at rivers in Wales, the north-east, Midlands and East Anglia caused by rain and strong winds in coastal areas. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency also issues flooding warnings
  • A woman and 10-year-old boy are taken to hospital with minor injuries after a tree crashes on to their car in Shenley, Hertfordshire
  • Fire crews cut free two women from a car after a similar incident in Eaglescliffe, Teesside. Neither was seriously hurt
  • Two passengers are injured when damaged overhead cable equipment smashes a train window nearly Ely in Cambridgeshire
  • In Warwickshire, a train crew and passengers help move a tree blown across a railway line

Scottish Hydro says 2,000 homes now remain without electricity across its network, after it restored power supplies to 7,000 homes on the Isle of Bute, in Dunoon and the Isle of Cumbrae.

Scottish Power earlier said it had 850 staff working to restore supplies to 5,000 customers.

In the East Midlands, 5,000 homes remain without power, mainly in north Nottingham and Derbyshire, although the figure has halved since Thursday morning, Western Power Distribution (WPD) said.

And in the West Midlands the number has fallen from 6,000 to 3,500 - with those still without power mainly in Stoke and Staffordshire.

The 500 homes still powerless in south-east Wales lie in isolated pockets, and full power is expected to be restored by the end of Thursday, WPD added.

Image caption Winds have brought down trees around the country

Meanwhile, one of the two men who died during Tuesday's storms was named as Christopher Hayes, 51. He was killed when a tree crushed his van in Kent.

There has been widespread disruption to travel, with the Severn Crossing between England and Wales closed to high-sided vehicles and motorcycles in both directions.

North Yorkshire Police have urged motorists to make only essential journeys, while Suffolk fire services have warned people not to travel after dealing with 60 fallen trees.

Humberside Police also urged motorists to take care after a number of trees came down overnight. The Humber Bridge and M62 over the Ouse Bridge were both closed to high-sided vehicles.

John White, from Derbyshire, told the BBC his family had a lucky escape when a tree in front of their Belper home was blown over - but missed the house.

Mr White said: "It was only when we opened our curtains that we realised something was seriously wrong."

The council told him if the tree had fallen differently it could have crashed through his home, he said.

In Leicestershire, high winds and heavy rain caused trees to fall across the county. The A46 was blocked in both directions early on Thursday, but later cleared.

Police in Northamptonshire say they dealt with around 30 cases where trees had blocked roads, but reported no serious injuries.

And Lincolnshire Police say they dealt with 34 incidents of trees blocking roads as well as a cyclist hit by a tree, a driver trapped in his vehicle when his door was blocked by a falling tree, and a stable being blown away from its foundations.

The Met Office said gusts of 112mph were recorded on Wednesday evening at Great Dun Fell in the Pennines.

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