At least three die as shivering Britain battles Arctic blast

Arctic conditions continued to take their toll yesterday as two pensioners died after falling in their gardens in freezing temperatures while a motorist who stopped to help a stranded driver was killed when he was hit by another vehicle.

Transport networks struggled to cope with the freeze as daytime temperatures plunged to minus eight Celsius in places, causing some train services to be cancelled and delays to many flights.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond summoned Government chiefs for an hour-long emergency meeting yesterday to "stock take" and discuss preparations for the weekend, a Downing Street spokeswoman said.

Though the worst of the snow has fallen, temperatures remain low and rain is set to make Britain's frozen roads and pavements even more dangerous.

Forecasters say there is no end in sight for icy conditions and drivers are being warned of the danger of black ice.

The warning comes as details emerged of the latest victims of the freezing weather.

North Yorkshire Police said a 57-year-old man, who has not been named, was standing behind his Land Rover Defender when he was struck by a car that skidded out of control.

He had stopped to help recover a Vauxhall Corsa from a ditch at Bellerby Bank, between Richmond and Leyburn on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, when the accident happened at 7pm on Thursday.

Police in Cumbria said they feared 80-year-old Lillian Jenkinson had frozen to death after collapsing in her back garden in Workington. Her body was found at 10.40am on Thursday, the day after an elderly man was found dead in his garden in Kirkby Stephen, also Cumbria.

The deaths have prompted charities to urge residents to check on elderly neighbours.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Thursday night was the coldest ever recorded in Yorkshire, the temperature at Topcliffe, in North Yorkshire, falling to minus 19C, the lowest in the whole country.

At RAF Leeming the thermometer was showing minus 17.9C yesterday morning, making it the coldest night recorded at the station since records began in 1945.