More than 30 people were rescued after the windows of a Hampshire restaurant were shattered by rocks blown up by 80 mile an hour winds last night.

The drama happened as the storm brought travel chaos and more flooding threats to Hampshire.

Emergency services were called to rescue the diners at beach front Marine Cafe in Milford on Sea.

Daily Echo:

Rocks and stones blown by the wind shattered windows and a tidal surge flooded the ground floor.

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The army had to use their trucks and work with police, ambulance staff and coastguards to come to the rescue of the dinners at about 10pm last night.

Staff had to move customers upstairs while they waited to be rescued.

Daily Echo:

Lymington Health and Leisure Centre has been made available for those who are unable to return to their homes immediately.

James McCrossan, a chef at the restaurant, said he hoped never to see the same weather again.

He said: "The wind was just smashing against the windows. It almost looked like the windows were bending.

Daily Echo:

"The outside of the windows started smashing. There was glass everywhere, it wasn't safe for anyone.

"It's like I've never seen before and, touch wood, I hope never to see it again."

Stephen Caunter, general manager of the restaurant, said they would probably have to cancel wedding bookings due to the damage caused.

Daily Echo:

He added: "I believe most of the cars in the car park are either gone, underwater or a write-off."

Cherry Waite, who was at the restaurant for a Valentine's Day meal, described hearing the sound of shingle hitting the glass windows.

"Because we were all happy and enjoying ourselves it was a bit like the Titanic," she said. "There's tides and rain nipping up from the outside."

Chief Inspector Gary Cooper, who co-ordinated the rescue, said:
"Last night's joint operation to rescue 32 people from the restaurant was probably the most difficult joint operation I have been involved in in 28 years of policing.

"The extreme weather conditions of stones being thrown from the beach with the power of the wind to smash windscreens of fire engines and military trucks was almost like they were being shot from a rifle. All the windows in the restaurant were smashed

"The extreme weather shifted boulders on to the roadway which meant that the army and other rescuers had to move the boulders to get to the restaurant, which would have been completely impassable had we not had the benefit of the two military lorries with their high ground clearance.

"Officers from the Force Support Unit who are water trained led the rescue team which comprised of police officers and coastguard staff. All diners at the restaurant were evacuated on the two military lorries and escorted by police to the recreation centre at Lymington.

"The combined efforts of the emergency services in rescuing people from the restaurant was supported by the local authority teams at the rest centre, where they completed a triage process to ensure that no-one was injured and everyone's welfare was taken care of."