Storm Evert: Two women seriously injured by falling tree in Suffolk as wild weather continues

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Despite the rough conditions, bodyboarders braved the waves in rough seas at Fistral beach in Newquay - Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images
Despite the rough conditions, bodyboarders braved the waves in rough seas at Fistral beach in Newquay - Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

Two women in their 20s who were seriously injured when a 60 foot tall oak tree fell on them in the midst of Storm Evert on Friday were at a party celebrating a doctor's birthday.

The huge tree crashed to the ground without warning at the private party, as strong winds gusted across the country on Friday evening.

The party, which was thrown by a doctor celebrating his 27th birthday, was held in woodland behind Ubbeston Hall, near Halesworth, Suffolk.

Villagers had been told prior to the event that it was being held for "a group of mainly doctors letting off steam and enjoying themselves after a very difficult year".

There were around 30 people at the party when the tree fell at 6.35pm on Friday.

But the party organiser, who asked not to be identified, said that five other guests narrowly escaped injury - as the tree crashed down onto the bar and a stage area, partially deflecting its fall.

The two women, from the London area, were treated at the scene by doctors and medics attending the party, after one suffered spinal and head injuries, and the other pelvic and arm injuries.

They were taken to hospitals outside the area, where they are now in a "stable" condition, according to the party organiser.

He did not wish to identify the women, but he said: "This is a real tragedy. It just wasn’t supposed to happen. "The music had only just started playing and we heard a big crash.

"The tree fell down in the actual wood and luckily landed on the stage and bar area which broke the fall of it, but it still landed across the clearing. That's why it hit the two girls.

"It was in the wooded area and about five or ten metres back from the bar. It was completely uprooted. "Neither of them were trapped, although firefighters came as a precautionary measure. Five other people had a lucky escape because they were not injured at all.

"We did basic management to both patients. I don’t want to go into much detail of their condition and treatment that they got.

"I have had a birthday party here every year for the last six years. At the time there were only around 30 people here."

He added: "We had got a tree surgeon to come along to the clearing and clear out all the areas of dead wood in the interests of safety before the event - but it was a living tree that came down.”

Tree surgeons were back at the site today, cutting up the remains of the tree as party guests cleared up their camping gear.

The Met Office said that "further heavy downpours" are expected on Saturday, the worst of which would be central, eastern and southern England.

Storm Evert, which began on Thursday evening, produced gusts of winds close to 70mph across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

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The highest gust recorded so far was 69mph in St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly, the Met Office said.

RNLI volunteer crew from St Mary's and Sennen Cove spent Thursday night helping to rescue people from yachts around the Isles of Scilly.

Falmouth Coastguard Operations Centre reported a total of 22 incidents on Thursday night.

Campers also felt the full force of the winds with some claiming to have been "caught out" by late storm warnings.

Mark Morgan-Hillam, 48, his wife, Leanne, 43, and children who are four, 10 and 14 respectively, went camping just above Polzeath, Cornwall, on Thursday evening.

The deputy head teacher from Appley Bridge, Wigan, told the PA news agency: "The lack of warning was an issue.

"It was only at 9-10pm at night that we noticed the storm warning had changed to amber and I think that caught a lot of people out on our site who went to bed thinking it would be windy, but not blow their tent over."

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