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Commuters face heavy rain and 65mph gusts

Four huge lorries have smashed onto their sides in extreme winds as they left an exit ramp off a P&O ferry in Scotland. 

A huge emergency response was sent to Cairnryan, including ambulances, police and the fire service, after the vehicles shifted onboard at around 7.40am, causing damage. 

The ferry had come from Larne in Northern Ireland and one of the lorries belonged to Sawyers, a chilled food distribution firm. 

Just an hour and a half earlier, a 16,000-tonne Russian cargo ship became stranded off a beach in Falmouth, Cornwall, as it was lashed by winds of up to 74mph. 

A major rescue operation is underway to rescue sailors on board the Kuzma Minin, with the RNLI launching out of Falmouth just after 6am and Coastguard helicopters on the scene. No cargo is thought to be on board. 

It comes as commuters are being warned of treacherous conditions on the roads amid a series of weather warnings.

The Met Office is urging rush hour drivers to take care with heavy showers and strong winds expected to batter parts of the UK. 

London and the south east, Northern Ireland, south west England and Wales have been issued with yellow weather warnings today, with heavy rain and gusts of up to 65mph expected, according to forecasters.

Several ambulances were sent to the scene of the ferry incident today in Cairnryan in Scotland along with police and fire services after the vehicles shifted on board the ferry, causing damage

Overturned lorries on the deck of this ship this morning. P&O Ferries said: 'In extreme weather conditions, a number of vehicles have moved position on the decks causing damage onboard'

Overturned lorries on the deck of this ship this morning. P&O Ferries said: ‘In extreme weather conditions, a number of vehicles have moved position on the decks causing damage onboard’

No one is reported to have been injured in the incident which happened at around 7.30am and sparked a large emergency response (pictured) 

No one is reported to have been injured in the incident which happened at around 7.30am and sparked a large emergency response (pictured) 

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said: 'Operations control mobilised four fire engines to the scene and firefighters presently remain in attendance.' Pictured: Emergency services at the scene 

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said: ‘Operations control mobilised four fire engines to the scene and firefighters presently remain in attendance.’ Pictured: Emergency services at the scene 

Several ambulances were sent to Cairnryan along with police, the fire and rescue service and the coastguard, after the vehicles shifted on board the ferry, causing damage

Several ambulances were sent to Cairnryan along with police, the fire and rescue service and the coastguard, after the vehicles shifted on board the ferry, causing damage

No one is reported to have been injured in the incident at Cairnryan, which happened at around 7.30am. 

P&O Ferries said in a statement: ‘We can confirm that an incident took place on the European Causeway this morning. 

‘In extreme weather conditions, a number of vehicles have moved position on the decks causing damage onboard.

‘All passengers and crew are safely accounted for, there are no reports of injuries and the emergency services are in attendance.’

A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: ‘The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service was requested at 7.32am on Tuesday December 18 to assist our emergency service partners with an ongoing incident involving vehicles upon a ferry berthed at Cairnryan Ferry Terminal, Wigtownshire.

‘Operations control mobilised four fire engines to the scene and firefighters presently remain in attendance.’

In Cornwall, an operation is under way to rescue sailors stuck on the cargo ship Kuzma Mini, which remains grounded off Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth. 

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the 590ft ship had dragged its anchor and has a list of about five degrees.

There is no cargo on board the vessel, which has 18 Russian crew on board, and tugs will be attached to the ship to help re-float it when the tide rises.

Witnesses have taken pictures of the boat close to the shore.

Nigel Kitto, who lives locally, praised the work of the lifeboat and helicopter teams working in ‘horrific’ conditions.

What do the Met Office weather warnings say? 

RAIN AND WIND WARNING – NORTHERN IRELAND

Today: 3am until 9am

Wet and windy weather expected early Tuesday. Wettest in the south and west, windiest in the southeast.

What to expect:

  • Flooding of a few homes and businesses is likely.
  • Bus and train services probably affected with journey times taking longer.
  • Spray and flooding on roads probably making journey times longer.
  • Delays for high-sided vehicles on exposed routes and bridges likely.
  • Some short term loss of power and other services is possible.
  • It’s likely that some coastal routes, sea fronts and coastal communities affected by spray and/or large waves.

RAIN WARNING – SOUTH WEST ENGLAND AND WALES 

Today: 5am until 9pm

Rain, heavy at times, on Tuesday giving difficult driving conditions. Windy too, especially in coastal areas.

What to expect:

  • Flooding of a few homes and businesses is likely.
  • Bus and train services probably affected with journey times taking longer.
  • Spray and flooding on roads probably making journey times longer.

‘The helicopter and lifeboat have been going in and out and it’s incredible to see – the skill of the helicopter pilot,’ he said. The helicopter is going sideways here against the wind and struggling a bit.

‘It’s amazing to watch but there are people on board so fingers crossed that everyone gets back to shore OK.’

The efforts to rescue sailors from the beached tanker come on the eve of the 37th anniversary of the Penlee lifeboat disaster.

The 1981 tragedy, which occurred in nearby Penzance, claimed the lives of 16 people in similar circumstances.

‘There are dangerous rocks down there and this brings up memories for everyone, I imagine,’ Mr Kitto added.

Falmouth resident Jess Hughes described this morning’s weather on the Cornish coast as ‘extreme’.

‘As you come over the crest of the hill there’s just this huge ship where there shouldn’t be,’ she told the Press Association.

‘Last night it was horrendously windy and now there’s gravel up by the road, so it was a good high tide,’ she added.

An HM Coastguard spokeswoman said in a statement: ‘HM Coastguard is currently co-ordinating assistance to a 180-metre bulk carrier which dragged her anchor and grounded on the western side of the port entrance between Swanpool and Gyllyngvase beaches at around 5.40am.

‘The vessel has 18 Russian crew on board. There is no cargo on board. She currently has a list of five degrees but there is no report of any pollution.

‘Tugs are on their way to the vessel and a lifeboat is standing by at the scene. The Falmouth Coastguard Rescue Team have cordoned off an area around the ship.

‘Tugs will be attached to the vessel and as the tide rises, the plan is to re-float the vessel.’

The incident comes after the Met Office issued a yellow warning of severe weather with 65mph winds forecast. 

A spokesman said: ‘Another spell of wet and windy weather is expected today when rain will be heavy at times and, given recent wet weather, likely lead to impacts in a few places.

‘Over most of Wales, Devon and Cornwall the worst of the weather will have cleared by mid-afternoon whilst further east the worst conditions are likely to be during the afternoon and early evening.

‘This wet weather, meanwhile, will be accompanied by windy conditions with gusts in exposed coastal locations around 50-65mph which means that some coastal routes, sea fronts and coastal communities may be affected by spray and/or large waves. Inland, gusts will be lower and mainly peak at 40-50mph.’

A coastguard helicopter landing deck of the Kuzma Minin, a Russian bulk carrier ship which has grounded on a beach in Falmouth today, around an hour and a half before the ferry incident in Scotland 

A coastguard helicopter landing deck of the Kuzma Minin, a Russian bulk carrier ship which has grounded on a beach in Falmouth today, around an hour and a half before the ferry incident in Scotland 

A Coastguard operative hangs out of a helicopter over the Kuzma Minin today as sailors continue to be evacuated 

A Coastguard operative hangs out of a helicopter over the Kuzma Minin today as sailors continue to be evacuated 

This image shows the Coastguard helicopter above the ship by the beach in Falmouth, amid rough seas and strong winds 

This image shows the Coastguard helicopter above the ship by the beach in Falmouth, amid rough seas and strong winds 

Two local boats monitor the Kuzma Minin as the operation to remove the sailors from the Russian ship continues  

Two local boats monitor the Kuzma Minin as the operation to remove the sailors from the Russian ship continues  

The Kuzma Minin pictured earlier this morning. A rescue operation is now underway to rescue the crew and ensure no damage is caused to the local environment 

The Kuzma Minin pictured earlier this morning. A rescue operation is now underway to rescue the crew and ensure no damage is caused to the local environment 

Weather warnings map

Weather warnings map

The Met Office has issued weather warnings for Northern Ireland, South Wales and South West England today

Natural Resources Wales has also issued 16 ‘low risk’ flood warnings yesterday in West, South and Mid Wales.

Speed restrictions were put on traffic using the 336ft Tamar Bridge linking Saltash, Cornwall, with Plymouth in Devon.

Early this morning high-side vehicles, bikes and caravans were banned from the bridge, and the central lane was closed as the structure was being buffeted by the stormy weather.

And the winds lashing the sea into a cauldron are causing ‘severe delays’ for passengers and vehicles using the Torpoint Ferry running across the sea at the mouth of the Tamar estauary from Devonport at Plymouth to Torpoint, Cornwall.

Rush hour carnage also hit one of Britain’s busiest motorways this morning after crash forced the closure of a stretch of the M4 heading into London.

There was gridlock across a huge area of the Thames Valley as massive jams built up. People heading to work – along with many Christmas shoppers – desperately tried to find alternative routes.

Thames Valley Police said the entire 12-mile stretch of the eastbound carriageway between junction 13 at Chieveley, near Newbury, and junction 12 at Theale, near Reading, had been closed since 4.45am.

Officers said the crash was ‘serious’ and involved a motorcyclist. In the past, serious crashes on that stretch have seen police closed the M4 so an air ambulance can land on the carriageway.

It was causing chaos because traffic relies on the eastbound carriageway to travel from the West Country and the Thames Valley into London.

As massive queues jammed local roads and lanes, with people frantically seeking alternative routes, police warned the carriageway is likely to remain closed ‘for several hours’.

Heavy rain is expected between 5am and 9pm today (left), while Wednesday will also be wet for many areas (right)

Thursday is expected to bring sunny conditions in eastern parts (left), while rain will return for many areas on Friday (right)

Traffic trapped on the closed-off stretch was allowed to turn back and leave the motorway at junction 13.

Drivers were advised to avoid the entire West Berkshire area if possible as it was becoming gridlocked as the peak rush hour started. A diversion was in place via the A34 towards Newbury and then the A4 to re-join the M4 at Theale.  

The Met Office has given a yellow warning for rain along with cautions for potential flooding to homes and businesses.

Heavy rain is expected between 5am and 9pm across much of West, South and parts of Mid Wales, with strong winds and gusts of up to 65mph expected to affect the Welsh coast.

The rain warning for South Wales,  including Cardiff and Swansea, and Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and West Sussex – is in effect until 9pm. 

The worst of the weather is expected to have cleared by mid-afternoon but further east the worst conditions are likely to be during the afternoon and early evening. 

Massive 16,000-tonne Russian cargo ship with 18 crew but no cargo onboard runs aground off Cornwall beach after strong winds batter south of England 

An operation is under way to rescue sailors stuck on a 16-tonne Russian cargo ship that has run aground off a beach in Cornwall in ‘extreme’ and ‘horrific’ weather.

The massive vessel, believed to be the Kuzma Minin, grounded off Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth at about 5.40am on Tuesday.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the 590ft (180m) ship had dragged its anchor and has a list of about five degrees.

The Kuzma Minin became stranded off Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth in Cornwall today

The Kuzma Minin became stranded off Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth in Cornwall today

The Russian cargo ship ran aground off a beach on the south coast of Britain this morning

The Russian cargo ship ran aground off a beach on the south coast of Britain this morning

There is no cargo on board the vessel, which has 18 Russian crew on board, and tugs will be attached to the ship to help re-float it when the tide rises.

Witnesses have taken pictures of the boat close to the shore.

The incident comes after the Met Office issued a yellow warning of severe weather with 65mph winds forecast.

Nigel Kitto, who lives locally, praised the work of the lifeboat and helicopter teams working in ‘horrific’ conditions.

‘The helicopter and lifeboat have been going in and out and it’s incredible to see – the skill of the helicopter pilot,’ he said.

‘The helicopter is going sideways here against the wind and struggling a bit.

‘It’s amazing to watch but there are people on board so fingers crossed that everyone gets back to shore OK.’

The efforts to rescue sailors from the beached tanker come on the eve of the 37th anniversary of the Penlee lifeboat disaster.

The 1981 tragedy, which occurred in nearby Penzance, claimed the lives of 16 people in similar circumstances.

‘There are dangerous rocks down there and this brings up memories for everyone, I imagine,’ Mr Kitto added.

Emergency services launched the operation after the ship became stranded in Cornwall

Emergency services launched the operation after the ship became stranded in Cornwall

The RNLI launched out of Falmouth with pilot boats from the nearby docks also in the water

The RNLI launched out of Falmouth with pilot boats from the nearby docks also in the water

Falmouth resident Jess Hughes described this morning’s weather on the Cornish coast as ‘extreme’.

‘As you come over the crest of the hill there’s just this huge ship where there shouldn’t be,’ she told the Press Association.

‘Last night it was horrendously windy and now there’s gravel up by the road, so it was a good high tide,’ she added.

An HM Coastguard spokeswoman said in a statement: ‘HM Coastguard is currently co-ordinating assistance to a 180-metre bulk carrier which dragged her anchor and grounded on the western side of the port entrance between Swanpool and Gyllyngvase beaches at around 5.40am.

‘The vessel has 18 Russian crew on board. There is no cargo on board. She currently has a list of five degrees but there is no report of any pollution.

‘Tugs are on their way to the vessel and a lifeboat is standing by at the scene. The Falmouth Coastguard Rescue Team have cordoned off an area around the ship.

‘Tugs will be attached to the vessel and as the tide rises, the plan is to re-float the vessel.’ 

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