Two killed as U.K. hit with strong winds and flooding for a second straight weekend

Soldiers erect flood barricades in the town of Ilkley in northern England. Copyright OLI SCARFF
By Associated Press with NBC News World News
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Two bodies pulled from sea, as hurricane-force winds and monster waves rocked the region.


LONDON — Rescuers found a body in rough seas following an extensive search Saturday off the coast of southeast England, as Britain faced a second straight weekend of wild winter weather and flooding from Storm Dennis.

The body was discovered by a lifeboat from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and brought to shore, a spokesman for the local coast guard said.

The RNLI, with the assistance of police and a Royal Navy vessel, had scoured the sea near Margate starting before dawn after a distress call reporting a man overboard. The call is believed to have come from B Gas Margrethe, a 99-meter Maltese tanker that had been anchored off the coast of Margate, a small town on England's east coast.

In a separate incident, Police were called Saturday afternoon to a report a person had been pulled from the sea in another small town nearby, called Herne Bay.

A man was declared dead at the scene.

Hurricane-force winds of up to 98 mph and monster waves that could reach over 100 feet were roaring across the North Atlantic on Saturday, the U.S. National Weather Service's Ocean Prediction Center said.

The fourth named storm of the season, dubbed Dennis by Britain's Met Office weather service, was expected to deepen through the weekend. Authorities urging people to take all possible precautions. Hundreds of flights were cancelled.

Britain's Meteorological Office had 22 flood warnings in place around England, which meant flooding was expected. The Irish Meteorologist Service issued a number of wind warnings, saying gusts of up to 75 mph might be seen. Gale warnings were also issued in Iceland.

The weather is expected to strike all areas of Britain, including parts of northern England still recovering from Storm Ciara last weekend. That storm left at least eight people dead across Europe, including two in the U.K.

Airlines preemptively canceled hundreds of flights out of London and other U.K. airports, and railways warned about possible train delays and cancellations. Tens of thousands of passengers were being affected on a busy travel day for British families, as most schools in the country closed down for a mid-winter break.

Easyjet cancelled around 230 flights in and out of the country as wind speeds are set to hit 70 mph. British Airways also cancelled flights.

Areas in northern England, which are still recovering from Ciara, faced up to 4 1/2 inches of rain on Saturday. The country's Environment Agency said flooding is likely to be worse than last weekend — when hundreds of homes were flooded as river burst their banks — since the rain will be falling on saturated ground.

Around 75 British army personnel and 70 reservists were helping out stretched communities in the flood-hit Calder Valley region in West Yorkshire, constructing barriers and repairing damaged flood defenses.

"Our armed forces are always ready to support local authorities and communities whenever they need it," Britain's Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said. "The rapid response of the Army today will help with provision of flood relief to local communities in West Yorkshire."

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