Kew Gardens death: Woman killed by falling tree branch

A 32-year-old woman from New Zealand has been killed by a falling tree branch at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, south-west London, during gusts of wind and heavy rain.

Police were called at 14:10 BST on Sunday by London Ambulance Service to reports of a fatal injury.

An eyewitness said he heard several cracks which sounded like "shotgun fire in very quick succession".

The woman, not yet formally identified, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said the death is being treated as non-suspicious.

Kew Gardens was closed on Monday following severe weather warnings.

The Met Office has issued amber warnings - advising people to be prepared for severe weather - for London and the South East.

'Deepest sympathy'

The family of the woman who was living in the UK has been informed.

Marketing director Gary Baker was at Kew Gardens with his wife when the branch fell.

He said: "I was walking towards Brentford Gate and there were several cracks to my left.

"It sounded like shotgun fire in very quick succession. I looked around and there was quite clearly a movement in a tree, something falling."

He ran towards the victim and said he saw a "big chunk of branch a metre or so away".

A Kew Gardens spokesman said: "The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew confirms a tragic accident at Kew Gardens when a falling tree branch resulted in a fatality.

"We cannot comment further at this stage but our deepest sympathy is with family and friends."

Consular advice

Police officers will be liaising with the Health and Safety Executive later with a view to progressing the investigation, Scotland Yard said.

A London Ambulance Service spokesman said: "We were called just before 2.05pm to reports that a large tree branch had fallen on a woman in Kew Gardens.

"We sent an ambulance crew, three responders in cars, an officer and London's Air Ambulance to the scene.

"Extensive efforts were made to resuscitate the patient, but sadly she was pronounced dead at the scene."

A spokesman for New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was providing consular advice and support to the woman's family.

A post-mortem examination is due to take place on Tuesday.

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