LONDON – Strong winds that pummeled Britain killed a taxi driver, whose car was crushed by falling chunks of masonry from a building, and an elderly man who died after a “freak wave” struck a cruise ship in the English Channel, officials said Saturday. Another 15 cruise ship passengers were injured.
The taxi driver was killed late Friday in central London near Holborn subway station when part of a building collapsed during a windstorm, police said. She was identified as Julie Sillitoe, a 49-year-old with three sons.
Her passengers, a man and woman, were hospitalized with injuries not believed to be life-threatening, police said. The car wasn’t moving at the time of the building collapse and the female passenger managed to free herself from the rear of the vehicle.
A fourth person, believed to be a male pedestrian, also was injured and taken to a hospital, ambulance officials said. About 10 people were evacuated from nearby buildings as a precaution.
The 85-year-old cruise ship passenger died after 80 mph (130 kph) wind gusts kicked up giant waves in the English Channel on Friday afternoon, endangering safety in the crowded shipping lanes used by commercial vessels, cruise ships and pleasure craft. Cruise and Maritime Voyages said a “freak wave” broke five windows on its Marco Polo cruise ship, inundating the ship’s Waldorf Restaurant.
Spokesman Paul Foster said the man died before he could be airlifted for emergency treatment. The cause of death hasn’t been determined, he said.
The company said a second passenger was airlifted and is being treated for injuries not thought to be life-threatening. Another 14 passengers were treated on board for minor injuries, the company said.
The Marco Polo was carrying 735 mostly British passengers and 349 crew members when the wave struck. It had been returning to its home port of London Tilbury after a 42-day cruise to the Azores.
The army rescued 30 people from a seafront restaurant in Hampshire, southwest of London, after high winds blew a shingle through its windows, allowing floodwaters in.
Officials said 22 severe flood warnings are in place, meaning lives are in danger in those areas. More heavy rain and winds are expected Saturday.
In Hertfordshire, north of London, residents of 17 homes were evacuated Saturday after a 20-foot (65-foot) deep sinkhole developed overnight on a quiet residential street.