Gales cause chaos in county

PART of the Port of Felixstowe remains closed today after two cranes came crashing down when they were struck by a ship.A ship carrying millions of pounds worth of new cranes broke its moorings in gale force winds early yesterday morning and crashed into older cranes at the Landguard terminal bringing them crashing to the floor in a mangled heap.

PART of the Port of Felixstowe remains closed today after cranes came crashing down in high winds.

It is not known when the Landguard terminal of the port will be able to reopen after a ship carrying new cranes broke its moorings in gale-force winds and crashed into older cranes on the quayside causing them to collapse.

The incident happened at about 1.30am yesterday when gusts of up to 60mph battered the county causing chaos.

A ship, the Zhen Hua 23, arrived at the port on Friday carrying three new high-rise quayside cranes for Britain's busiest container terminal, the first part of a consignment of £20million-plus of cranes arriving this year.

Crowds had gathered to see the cranes, which had arrived on a ship that took nine weeks to travel from China to Felixstowe.

A crane driver, who was working at the port when the incident happened, said: “Due to the high winds, the ship broke its moorings and started to move down the quay.

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“The new cranes hit some of the old ones and completely destroyed the old cranes. It was just like a mangled pile of steel on the floor. You would not recognise it as a crane. I think the new cranes were badly damaged too.”

Several containers were also brought down, causing Viewpoint Road to shut, and according to the worker, about 12 to 15 ships remained anchored out at sea as they could not get in due to the closed port.

Paul Davey, head of corporate affairs for the port, said: “Work will recommence as soon as the winds stop. Following winds, the container port was closed due to the crane incident. There should not be undue delays caused to ships.

“Most of the ships would be bound for Trinity terminal, which has not been affected by the crane incident.”

Suffolk Police said the force received more than 100 calls for weather-related incidents.

In Needham Market a motorcyclist crashed into a tree, which had been partially blocking the road, at about 5.35am. The 20-year-old was taken to Ipswich Hospital with minor injuries.

A Suffolk Police spokesman said: “It is fair to say there were over 100 calls for weather-related incidents. There have not been any serious injuries as a direct result but there have been some minor collisions.”

The East of England Ambulance Trust said the adverse weather conditions had caused “a lot of trouble” for crews, with two reports of debris in the road delaying their route to patients.

A spokesman said: “We struggled to get to a couple of jobs. We were delayed in getting to a patient near Aldeburgh, and in Norfolk, a crew tried three different routes to get to a patient because each one was blocked by a tree or debris.”

Suffolk Fire had more than a dozen calls with wind-related incidents between 1am and 3am today.

A spokesman said: “These incidents range from trees coming down on the road to electricity fires caused by electricity cables. We were very very busy between those times.”

Incidents included electricity cables coming down near the Belstead Brook hotel and a tree falling on a house in Stanningfield, Bury St Edmunds.

EDF Energy experienced a busy night with calls from across the region. A spokesman said the effects had mainly been in North Suffolk and Bury St Edmunds.

Elsewhere in the country, a driver was taken to hospital last night in East Yorkshire after high winds resulted in a car being hit by a falling tree.

The calls to structural problems in the atrocious weather conditions have come just a few days after many properties in the area were hit by the earthquake centred on nearby Market Rasen.

Evening Star weatherman Ken Blowers said the strongest gust of wind hit 61mph in the early hours of the morning.

He said: “The worst of the winds were between 1am and 3am this morning.

“The wind will gradually decrease today but it will be very gradual.”

Mr Blowers said the coming week will see winds coming from the North West and Iceland which will bring with it colder weather and possibly a chance of snow.

How were you affected by the wind? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail