The woman, believed to be 30 years old, was hit by the branch at the south-west London attraction on Sunday afternoon. Paramedics tried to revive her but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
The New Zealand Herald reported that the country’s foreign affairs ministry has confirmed the woman was a New Zealander living in London. It has not yet been established if the accident will be referred to the Health and Safety Executive, Scotland Yard said.
A London Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We were called just before 2.05pm to reports that a large tree branch had fallen on a woman in Kew Gardens. We sent an ambulance crew, three responders in cars, an officer and London’s Air Ambulance to the scene. Extensive efforts were made to resuscitate the patient, but sadly she was pronounced dead at the scene.”
A witness described hearing a sound “like three or four gunshots”. When he turned around he said the woman, 30, was laying on the ground, face-down, with an “extremely large” branch smashed on the ground next to her. Gary Barker said the bough came “crashing down” from a 60ft tree. He added: “It was clear she was badly hurt. The branch was extremely large.”
The woman’s death is not being treated as suspicious and a police spokesman could not confirm whether the matter would be referred to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Today, Monday 24 September 2012, the gardens issued a closure notice on their website: “The Met Office have issued a severe weather warning for London and the South East predicting heavy rain and winds gusting 50-55mph. As a precaution, Kew Gardens will not be open to the public today. We apologies for any inconvenience or disappointment this may cause.”
The severe weather is expected to spread further across Britain over the next 24 hours with some regions bracing themselves for wind speeds of up to 70mph and rainfall of up to 66mm.
Heavy downpours, equivalent to almost a month’s worth of rain, are due in parts of the South West, northern England and Scotland. Some 12 flood warnings have been put in place for the South West and 66 flood alerts issued for other areas of the country by the Environment Agency. These include 34 in the South West, 19 in the North East, 11 in the Midlands and two in Wales.
The Environment Agency has warned people to be prepared for significant disruption on Monday and in to Tuesday. Director of operations, David Jordan, said: “We strongly urge people to sign up to flood warnings, keep a close eye on local weather forecasts and be prepared for the possibility of flooding. “We also ask that people stay safe, by staying away from swollen rivers and not attempting to drive through floodwater.”