A cruise ship passenger has died after 80mph winds lashed southern Britain and whipped up freak waves in the English Channel.
The 85-year-old man was on the 22,000-tonne Marco Polo when water crashed through a window, injuring a number of people. He was airlifted off the vessel along with a woman in her 70s, but later died.
A rescue team is searching for two hill walkers missing on Ben Nevis in Scotland a nd up to 30 people are trapped at the Marine Cafe in Milford on Sea, Hampshire, where rough seas have reportedly hurled rocks through windows.
The Environment Agency and emergency services have battled to cope with the latest instalment of the worst winter storms in living memory.
Severe flood warnings have been issued on the coast from Cornwall to Hampshire, and forecasters are warning that heavy rainfall is set to continue today.
Gloucester is also thought to be at risk of flooding, while there is no respite for the Thames Valley as rivers remain at their highest levels for decades.
Winds were wreaking fresh havoc, with gusts of up to 80mph hitting exposed parts of the south coast. Trees are reported to have fallen on trains near Mottingham in south-east London, and near Winterslow in Wiltshire, but no one was hurt in either episode.
All train services west of Plymouth have been cancelled, while a landslide near Redhill has hit the line south of the capital.
The Marco Polo, operated by Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), was heading for its home port of Tilbury, Essex, when it was pummelled by the storm yesterday.
Water crashed through a window injuring a number of the 735 passengers, who are mainly British. Apart from the two victims who were airlifted off, a number of passengers received minor injuries and were treated on board.
The vessel, which has been to the Amazon in South America and to the West Indies during its 42-day journey, is due to dock at Tilbury in the early hours of tomorrow.
The company said yesterday: "CMV regrets to advise that earlier today their cruise ship m/s Marco Polo, en-route to her home port of Tilbury from the Azores, was hit by a freak wave during adverse sea conditions in the south western approaches of the English Channel.
"One elderly passenger has died and a further passenger has been airlifted for further shore-side medical assistance.
"Our thoughts are very much with these passengers and their families during this difficult time."
Forecasters are expecting the storms to recede tomorrow and say it is likely the weather systems battering the UK will be less intense next week.