Two dead as powerful storm batters UK
Residents clear branches from a fallen tree in Birkenhead. AFP
Two people were killed, thousands of homes cut off from power and drivers stuck on freezing roads overnight as a powerful storm hit the northern UK, authorities said Saturday.
One woman tweeted a video of her flight from Paris struggling to land in Manchester, northwest England, in high winds late Friday.
Passengers' nervous laughter gave way to screams and sobs before the pilot aborted the landing, succeeding on a second attempt.
The UK's meteorological service issued a rare "red weather" warning as "Storm Arwen" brought wind gusts of almost 100 miles (160 kilometres) per hour.
"People should stay away from the coast as waves and debris are a danger to life," the Met Office warned.
One man was killed when his car was struck by a falling tree in Northern Ireland late Friday, police said. Another man died when he was hit by a tree in the Lake District, northwest England.
The severe gale left 75,000 homes still without power on Saturday in Scotland, according to the country's electricity utility.
Express train services were suspended north of Newcastle and roads closed by fallen debris in parts of Scotland, while snowfall from Friday afternoon brought disruption to routes more widely.
The snow and fallen trees caused road blockages across northern England and Scotland, forcing many drivers to sleep in their vehicles overnight, according to traffic police and social media.
Around 120 lorries were "stuck in the snow" on one section of motorway between Manchester and Leeds, police said, tweeting pictures of the road blanketed in white before snow ploughs could be deployed.
While the winds had eased by Saturday morning, the Met Office warned conditions would remain challenging because of ice and snow, and the public was urged to avoid non-essential travel.
The railway operator for southwest England warned of "multiple trees and obstructions blocking the railway". ScotRail services were suspended between Edinburgh and Glasgow after a barn was blown onto the line.
The storm also forced the cancellation of at least one lower-league football fixture and a horse racing meet later Saturday.