Woman killed by falling branch after rainstorm

Death at Kew Gardens as floods cause road and rain problems across UK

A woman was killed by a falling tree branch in Kew Gardens, London, on Sunday during rain and gusts of wind close to 30mph, as stormy weather lashed parts of the country.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, issued a statement that confirmed the tragedy and said: “We are currently working with police and next of kin are being informed.”

Commuters have been hit by flooding on railways and roads, with warnings of more floods to come as some parts of the country face up to three inches of rain today.

Heavy rain overnight in the South West yesterday led to the flooding of around 15 properties in Somerset and disruption to rail services between Exeter and Bristol, while flooding was delaying trains between Chester and north Wales.

The Highways Agency also said surface water flooding was causing delays on the A49 near Ludlow, Shropshire.

Motorists were being warned to take care on flooded roads in flood plains and in valleys.

The Met Office was forecasting that up to 100mm of rain could fall over parts of northern England, the Midlands and north and east Wales today, with some areas receiving more than the average for the whole month of September.

The Pennines are likely to be worst hit, with an increased risk of flooding for communities around the rivers Aire and Calder.

Yesterday morning there were 20 flood warnings for rivers in place in the South West, North East and Midlands regions, and the Environment Agency is also warning of surface water flooding.

There were almost 100 less serious flood alerts in place.

The Met Office is also warning of high winds across southeast England today, with gusts of up to 60mph inland and 70mph along the coast, with similar wind speeds in northeast England and eastern Scotland later tonight and tomorrow.

The Environment Agency urged people to stay safe in the face of flooding, keeping away from swollen rivers and not to attempt to drive through floodwater.

The agency said it expected to issue a significant number of flood warnings and alerts for rivers in the coming days and had sent out teams across the country to check on flood defences, clear blockages and monitor river levels.

Alison Baptiste, flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, said: “We are already seeing travel disruption due to the wet weather and could well see flooding across the country this week.

“We strongly urge people to sign up to flood warnings, keep a close eye on local weather forecasts and be prepared for the possibility of flooding.

“We also ask that people stay safe by staying away from swollen rivers and not attempting to drive through floodwater.

“The Environment Agency expects to issue a significant number of flood warnings and alerts for rivers in the coming days and has sent out teams to check on flood defences.”

Road users were having to reduce speed significantly – or take another route – in order to avoid aqua­planing and risk losing control in standing water.

And on the railways, Tiverton Parkway station in Devon, which is flanked by two valleys, was among the worst-hit areas, with train services between Exeter and Bristol falling victim to the conditions.

Some stricken passengers said they had to make alternative arrangements after their services were delayed.

Kew Gardens said it was closed to the public yesterday “as a precaution” in light of the Met Office warning of severe weather for London, including winds of more than 50mph.

The overnight heavy rain has caused widespread problems in parts of north Somerset, Bristol and south Gloucestershire.


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