Updated: 02/15/2014 11:37 AM
Created: 02/15/2014 8:36 AM KSTP.com
By: Cassie Hart
Strong winds have pummeled Britain over the past two days, killing a taxi driver in central London 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 in the incident.
The taxi driver was killed late Friday in central London near Holborn subway station during a heavy windstorm when her car was crushed by chunks of falling masonry from a building, police said. She was identified as Julie Sillitoe, a 49-year-old with three sons.
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 during the incident 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 successfully airlifted and is being treated for injuries not thought to be life-threatening. Another 14 passengers sustained minor injuries and were treated on board, 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.
The army was also called in to rescue 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.
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