Stormy weather has left thousands of homes in the South West without power and transport networks in chaos amid battering winds and severe flood warnings.
The Environment Agency has seven severe flood warnings in place – meaning a “danger to life” – covering much of the south coast of England from Cornwall to Dorset.
Western Power Distribution said about 44,000 customers in the South West had been affected by power cuts and 5,000 homes remained without power.
In response to the storms, Prime Minister David Cameron is to chair a meeting of Cobra – the civil contingencies committee that leads responses to national crises.
“I’ll be chairing a Cobra today to ensure all that can be done is being done over the latest storms, flooding and power cuts,” Mr Cameron tweeted.
Weather forecasters MeteoGroup said the strongest gusts overnight were at Berry Head in Devon with speeds hitting 91mph.
The Met Office said yellow warnings of rain were in place for parts of Scotland, the East of England, London and the South East, the South West, Wales and the West Midlands.
“It will continue to be very windy. We can expect to see gusts of 60mph-70mph quite widely across parts of South Wales, Devon and Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset, those sorts of areas,” a spokeswoman said.
Rail services across the South West have also been badly disrupted.
In Dawlish, between Exeter and Cornwall, a section of seawall under the coastal railway line collapsed and two people had to be rescued from a car.
First Great Western said all lines between Exeter St Davids and Penzance had been closed but was hopeful services would resume this morning.
Western Power Distribution said winds of up to 80mph had caused “airborne debris” to fly into overhead lines, causing power cuts.
A spokesman said around 200 engineers worked through the night to repair the damage.
Residents were evacuated from 30 flooded houses in Kingsand, Cornwall, and Tamar Coastguard Rescue Team helped rescue “a number of people”.
There was further flooding in Looe, where people have been advised to stay away from the seafront amid fears of huge waves.