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DEATH ON THE WAVES; Man is swept overboard in hurricane hell.

A FERRY passenger died yesterday after plunging overboard into the stormy Irish Sea.

A dramatic helicopter rescue attempt in hurricane force 12 winds failed to save Michael Davies, 35, from Cardiff, who spent an hour in the icy-cold water.

His death was one of several as storms and 90mph winds battered Britain.

Mr Davies fell overboard at around 11.50am as Stena Line's Koningin Beatrix ferry crossed from Rosslare to Fishguard, west Wales.

Three other passengers saw him fall and notified the captain who radioed for help.

He turned the ferry round as an Irish Coastguard helicopter, a chopper from RAF Valley, north Wales, and an RNLI lifeboat from Rosslare raced to the scene.

The ferry's crew tried to launch the lifeboat, but had to abandon attempts because of the rough weather.

Boats in the area also picked up the call and tried to help find Mr Davies.

An hour later one of the helicopters reported a sighting, and he was winched aboard.

He was flown to hospital in Wexford where staff tried to revive him but he died at 4pm.

A spokesman for the Rescue Coordination Centre at Dublin, said: "Getting a helicopter down there in hurricane winds was pretty difficult.

"They were very rough conditions. Three people saw him fall overboard, but were unable to say whether it was a man or a woman.

"It's very difficult to say exactly what happened."

Dyfed Powys Police said later there would be an investigation into Mr Davies' death.

Tragedy also struck in Powys, mid Wales, when a woman died and her husband was seriously injured when they plunged 40ft down the highest waterfall in Wales.

The couple, in their mid-50s, were walking down the 130ft Pistyll Rhaeadr falls near Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant when the accident happened on Saturday.

The spectacular falls were bursting with water after torrential rain.

But it is believed the couple lost their footing in the wet, falling from a path above the gorge.

Emergency services were called to the well-known beauty spot, but the woman was already dead.

Her husband was taken to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital with suspected broken ribs and was expected to be released last night.

The couple - who have not been named - were believed to be on holiday after from Grantham, Lincs.

Police were yesterday examining the scene but said there were no suspicious circumstances.

A Dyfed Powys Police spokesman said: "This looks like a tragic accident. The couple were quite well-equipped. They were crossing down the side of the falls when they fell. It had been tipping down all day."

Despite its beauty, the waterfalls are notoriously dangerous for walkers.

In July, a paramedic fell and suffered serious spinal injuries during a training exercise.

An 18-year-old man died in a car crash early yesterday morning in north Wales.

The driver was also critically ill after the car crashed through a hedge and overturned off the B450 Chirk to Glyn Ceiriog Road. He is in intensive care at Wrexham Maelor Hospital. Meanwhile, police were still probing the death of a man found on a railway line on Friday night. The man died on the line between Abergavenny and Pontrilas at around 6.45pm - the same time as the Cardiff to Holyhead train was in the area.

In Bognor, West Sussex, residents mounted a huge clear-up operation after a 40ft tornado travelling at 75mph cut a mile-and-a-half swathe of destruction through the resort.

Cars were overturned, roof lifted buildings wrecked and at least six people injured. Two women were hurt when their caravans were blown onto each other. One had to be cut free. Kathleen Wright, 60, said: "I heard a loud bang. Then bricks from our neighbour's house were catapulted at our home.

"I saw a fence fly past the kitchen window. Then as suddenly as it started, it was over. We've never suffered anything like this."

Paul Taber, 33,added: "I've never seen anything like it. The whole town went pitch black and you could hear this awful whistling sound as the tornado ripped through us. A tree in my neighbour's garden had come crashing through our fence and there is a car on its roof in our street."

Emergency services had only just finished cleaning up from the flooding two weeks ago. But fire and police services again spent the night securing dangerous buildings and making sure people were safe.

Helen Young, the BBC's senior weather forecaster, said: "I watched these terrifying winds build up and realised gusts of between 70 and 90mph could develop.

"People told me I looked concerned - they were right."
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Article Details
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Author:Williams, Brendon
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 30, 2000
Words:762
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