A search operation is under way after an RSPCA inspector went missing after rescuing sea birds in the middle of Storm Imogen. The vicious storm has battered the south of England with winds nearing 100mph. Two children were also seriously hurt during the storm that also brought torrential rain and left more than 13,000 homes without power throughout the UK and Ireland.
RSPCA inspector Mike Reid went missing after he was called to a wildlife rescue involving 20 to 30 gannets stranded on rocks at Porthchapel beach near Penzance in Cornwall, The Guardian reported. The RSPCA has launched a search for the 54-year-old inspector who is believed to have disappeared around 2pm on 7 February.
"We are extremely concerned and urge anyone who may have seen Mike to contact Devon and Cornwall police who are leading the search," said RSPCA's assistant director for the inspectorate Dermot Murphy. "He has not been seen since he responded to a call to our national control centre about stricken birds yesterday."
According to Sky News, in the Worcestershire village of Bretforton, two children, ages five and seven, suffered serious leg injuries after Storm Imogen caused a stone garden wall to fall on them. Hereford and Worcester fire and rescue service said paramedics were able to stablise the children before they were flown to hospital for treatment.
In Bognor Regis, West Sussex, a man suffered a serious injury and his dog was killed after the storm's strong winds brought down a 5ft flint wall on them in the morning of 8 February. The Guardian reported the unidentified man suffered a double fracture to his leg. A separate incident in New Forest, Hampshire required firefighters to rescue a man who was trapped in his vehicle after a tree fell on it. He suffered minor injuries, according to Sky News.
The Met Office reported hazardous conditions on the coast and noted that a wave of 19.1m was recorded off the coast of St Ives. Coastguards were forced to issue a warning after schoolchildren were seen standing on a beach at Hill Head, near Southhapton, Hampshire while Storm Imogen hit.
The BBC reported that the Environment Agency issued more than 50 flood warnings, meaning flooding was expected and immediate action was required. Several of those warnings were put in place by Natural Resources Wales. Most warnings by the Met Office were set to expire at 10am on 9 February.
Storm Imogen also severely impacted roads and travel conditions. The Severn Bridge on the M48 was reported closed to some vehicles, as well as the A21 in East Sussex between A28 and A2100, the A249 Sheppey Crossing, the A282 Dartford Crossing going southbound and the A1 in Bedfordshire closed between the A603 and A421.
The Guardian reported rail services in Wales and southern England faced speed restrictions and cancellations, while London's Gatwick airport warned of delays. According to FlightAware, only two flights arriving at Gatwick were cancelled, but 50 flights were delayed.