Drivers stranded as storms hit UK
Vehicles have been abandoned on roads in northern EnglandHigh winds and heavy snowfall have been affecting much of the UK, stranding some motorists and blacking out homes.
Durham police launched a rescue operation after 150 motorists were stranded by snow on the A66.
An air rescue has also been launched after the captain of a cargo ship was seriously injured off the Scilly Isles during a force 10 gale.
The weather has also left nearly 7,000 homes have been left without power across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
Earlier crew and passengers had to be rescued from two ships - one off the coast of Blackpool and one on St Kilda.
Blizzards have affected much of Scotland and northern England, with snow recorded as deep as 15cm (5.9in) in some parts.
A coach carrying 40 pensioners was among the vehicles stranded on the A66, Neil Sterio of the Highways Agency told BBC News 24.
Emergency services have been taking rescued motorists to a hall and a pub in the village of Bowes, County Durham.
The only motorists who remain stuck on the roads are an estimated 25 to 30 lorry drivers.
Ch Insp Graham Rankin said: "Police and volunteers are trying to make sure that vulnerable people are kept warm and fed and watered."
Robert Campbell, 32, from Penicuik, Midlothian, is a passenger in one lorry stuck on the road.
Operation to float ferry
UK weather in pictures
He told the BBC News website: "The snowdrifts cover my boots when I go outside. They seem to have got the cars off the road, but the lorries are still stranded."
Lorry driver Bob Skeldon has also been held up on the A66 since 1145 GMT.
He said: "It's no longer snowing but there is still a heavy gale outside. It's not much fun being stuck here but they seem to be getting us out now."
High winds have caused several accidents across the country and two filling stations in Cumbria have had parts of their roofs blown off.
RAF helicopters will attempt to airlift the skipper of the Horn Cliff cargo vessel after he suffered a serious injury, which medics fear may have been to his spine, in a storm off the Scilly Isles, Falmouth Coastguard said.
One passenger on board suffered a broken hand and another sustained head injuries, but a spokesman said neither was seriously injured.
The ship lost about 90 containers but is not thought to be in danger of sinking.
A helicopter from RAF Chivenor in Devon will attempt to airlift the captain some time after 2100 GMT.
The spokesman added that there were 31 passengers on board, and the helicopter hoped to take seven of them.
Peter Bullard of Falmouth Coastguard said of the captain: "By the nature of his injuries it looks like he's been thrown by the terrible weather."
The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings across the UK with the exception of south-east England.
Adverse weather has left almost 3,000 homes in North Yorkshire and some 2,500 homes in East Yorkshire without power.
A further 1,300 have also been affected in northern Lincolnshire. CE Electrics say they are currently unsure when power will be restored.
The trawler hit rocks on the St Kilda islands, one of the remotest parts of Britain
Earlier, rescuers airlifted 23 passengers and crew from the Riverdance freight ferry, which had been beached by a freak wave at Cleveleys, near Blackpool, Lancashire, on Thursday night.
The freight vessel, which had been taking trucks from Warrenpoint, County Down, to the port of Heysham, Lancashire, began listing at an angle of 60 degrees off the coast.
It is being closely monitored by the coastguard in case of any oil spills. The ferry is carrying 150 tonnes of fuel.
One of those involved in the recovery operation praised the rescue crews and the Riverdance's captain.
John Matthews, from Fleetwood RNLI, said: "The conditions were terrible. I've got to say that the two lifeboat crews and the helicopters did a wonderful job.
"Listening to it on the radio, everything was very calm and professional. I was quite amazed by how calm the master of the ship was."
In a separate incident, a helicopter winched 14 people to safety from a stricken trawler off St Kilda.
The Spanish crew of the British-registered Spinningdale trawler have now been flown to Stornoway. Four were taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia.
Their vessel ran aground on rocks on one of the islands of the St Kilda archipelago - 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides.
They were unable to evacuate to a life raft because of force nine winds.
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch will launch an investigation into the incident amid fears the trawler could pose an environmental risk to the archipelago, which is a twice-listed World Heritage Site.
Jamie Ralston, the rescue centre co-ordinator at Stornoway Coastguard, told the BBC: "Our main concern ... if the vessel does break up, there was 8,000 litres of fuel oil and 450 litres of lube oil on board the vessel, is what damage that might do to the surrounding coastline and wildlife."
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