UK houses topple into the sea
Fierce storm erodes cliffs, destroys homes as thousands are forced to evacuate
DEVASTATED residents watched their cliff-top homes disappear into the sea as last night’s tidal surge hit the east coast of Britain.
Seven bungalows fell into the water in Hemsby, Norfolk, as the high tide eroded the cliff below.
Floodwaters are reported to be receding after the North Sea surge hit the north Norfolk coast early yesterday and headed south throughout the night.
Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes and spent the night in temporary accommodation as officials warned lives could be at risk.
The fierce Atlantic storm – which has already claimed two lives – caused widespread disruption yesterday.
Steven Connolly, 54, and his wife Jackie, 64, managed to rescue their three-month-old kittens Tom and Jerry before their home in Hemsby of seven years was destroyed.
Only the patio doors and a rear window were left standing as the home was torn in two.
Dozens of residents formed a human chain to help salvage the possessions of those affected.
Connolly, who bought the two- bedroom bungalow for £ 59 000 ( R996 000), said: “We were in the pub when we heard the cliff was going and rushed to get what we could out.
“People we’ve never even met were helping out, it was amazing.
“Suddenly we heard a shout, ‘it’s going, it’s going’ and we watched our kitchen get ripped apart. The whole house collapsed before our eyes.
“We’re devastated at what we’ve lost but at least me, Jackie and the kittens are safe.”
The couple are being put up along with other residents at a nearby holiday park but it is unclear where they will live in the long term.
“Once the surge is over, they’re going to sweep the beach and we may be able to recover some of our possessions from a skip,” Connolly added.
“When we bought the bungalow there was about seven feet (2m) that separated us and the sea. We always knew it might be hit by erosion but never thought it could happen so suddenly. We can’t even begin to think about what happens next.”
The house began to tip into the sea at 8pm last night, Connolly said, and by 3am it was gone.
“It just happened so fast. One minute it was safe and the next minute it was gone. We are basically homeless.”
He added: “I’ve read the insurance policy and we’re not covered for coastal erosion.”
He said that it was not raining but very windy with high seas and strong tidal currents at the time of the collapse.
“The people who own the beach should have done something to protect it earlier,” he said.
The beach-side houses were swept away following the storm along with a lifeboat hut, also in Hemsby, and a beachside café at Caister-on-Sea.
Local authorities in Norfolk said there was a risk of further flooding, especially in the Hunstanton area where some of the shingle bank has been swept away.
Speaking from the Caister High School rest centre, David Ashworth, area manager for Norfolk Fire and Rescue, said: “things seem to have calmed down along the coast although there has been some damage to properties, such as the old lifeboat shed and homes in Hemsby.
“We haven’t had any reports of injuries, but obviously more info will come to light through the morning.
“There will be a strategic co- ordinating group sitting down early. They’ll be given a briefing from the Environment Agency and that will inform the local technical co-ordinator about what we do next.’
At least 20 schools were closed in north Norfolk and the Yarmouth area while four were shut in Lowestoft, Suffolk, as local rail services were also devastated.
Police meanwhile have warned the public of the danger of flood “sightseeing” after people were seen running into the tide and watching the drama with children on their shoulders.
Forces issued the warning after reports of crowds gathering to watch last night’s tidal surge, which hit communities along the east of Britain.
A spokesman for Norfolk Police said sightseers placed themselves at “significant risk” in Great Yarmouth.
He said: “In the Gorleston area, from Riverside Road to the Ocean Rooms, and on to the beach and amusements, large crowds – including people with small children on their shoulders – are gathering very close to the seafront.
“There are serious concerns for their safety and police officers will be visiting this area to urge these groups away from danger.
“The high seas and rising water are unpredictable and the emergency services do not want to have to rescue people who have put themselves in potentially dangerous situations.”
The Fire Brigades Union said the chaos caused by the winds and floods showed there should be an immediate end to cuts in the fire and rescue service.
General secretary Matt Wrack said: “Firefighters have done a magnificent job over the past 24 hours as they responded to flood and storm incidents across many parts of the country, rescuing and evacuating large numbers of people, saving lives and preventing further risk.
“In many cases they travelled long distances across the country to provide support where it was most needed.” – Daily Mail
Alarm over Japan’s new secrets law
TOKYO: Japan’s parliament has approved a state secrets law that stiffens penalties for leaks by government officials and for journalists who seek such information, overriding criticism it could be used to cover up government abuses and suppress civil liberties. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the law is needed to protect national security.
UK soldier gets life for beheading man
LONDON: A British marine filmed executing a severely injured Taliban insurgent in Afghanistan was jailed for life, with a minimum 10 years behind bars, by a military court in Bulford, south-west England, yesterday. Sergeant Alexander Blackman, 39, was found guilty at a court martial last month of murdering the man in 2011.
U-turn for former guard on charges
KIGALI: An ex-guard of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who was illegally seized in Uganda and sent back to Kigali, has changed his plea to guilty of planning an uprising against the state. After his trial was moved behind closed doors he “accepted all offences except that of terrorism”, his lawyer Antoinette Mukamusoni said, without explaining the change.
Kenya sends troops to quell unrest
ISIOLO: Kenya says it has sent troops to its northern region to stop a week of fighting between ethnic groups that has killed at least 10 people and sent thousands fleeing into Ethiopia. Internal Security Minister Joseph ole Lenku said parliament had approved the deployment of the Kenya Defence Forces. He did not say how many troops had been sent or how long they would remain.
Doubt over Russian crash pilot’s licence
MOSCOW: The pilot of an airliner that crashed near the Russian city of Kazan last month, killing 50 people, might have received his licence from a training centre that was later closed on suspicion of operating illegally, investigators said. The November 17 crash killed all 44 passengers and six crew, and highlighted the poor safety record of the regional airlines that ply internal routes across the world’s largest country.
China set to land Rabbit on the moon
BEIJING: China’s first lunar rover entered the moon’s orbit yesterday, a key step towards its planned landing later this month. The rover – known as Yutu or Jade Rabbit – reached lunar orbit late yesterday, the official Xinhua news agency said, about 112 hours after it was launched from south-western China. It will explore the moon’s surface and search for natural resources.
Thai protesters vow final push to victory
BANGKOK: Thai anti-government protesters have set a new deadline for bringing down the government, saying Monday was an auspicious time for all of their supporters to join a final push for victory. Leaders of the opposition movement met at a government administrative centre they occupy to debate how to breathe fresh life into their movement, showing no signs of giving up although numbers have dwindled.
Yemen troops ‘take back compound’
SANAA: Yemen’s Defence Ministry said it had regained full control of its Sanaa military compound a day after a militant attack that killed 52 people, and an al- Qaeda- affiliated group claimed responsibility for the assault. Troops killed 11 militants in the violence triggered by a suicide bomber and gunmen wearing army uniforms, the ministry said. Also among the dead were medics from Germany, Vietnam, India and the Philippines, and 167 people were wounded.
DESTROYED: A police officer looks at a house that fell into the sea during a storm surge in Hemsby, eastern England yesterday.