UK & World News

  • 2 January 2014, 23:05

Stormy Weather: 20 Severe Flood Warnings

Twenty severe flood warnings have been issued for the UK as the next violent storm heads from the Atlantic to batter the British Isles.

Heavy rain and winds gusting up to 60mph are due to hit western areas on Friday morning, prompting fears of major flooding and travel chaos.

Thirteen of the warnings - the Environment Agency's highest category of alert, indicating a danger to life - are around the Cornwall, Devon and Dorset coastline.

Three are in Gloucestershire - around the River Severn and its estuary, near Cheltenham. Four others are in Wales - includingBarmouth, on the north-west coast.

In southDevon, areas include Plymouth, and stretches fromExmouth to Lyme Regis, and Start Point to Dawlish Warren. In the north of the county, areas around Ilfracombeand Barnstaple are under threat.

On Cornwall's Atlantic Coast, areas around Newquay,Wadebridge and Budealso have severe flood warnings. And there is another at Preston Beach In Weymouth, Dorset.

More than 400 weather warnings and alerts are also in place, affecting every region of England and Wales.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency is warning of a risk of flooding in Belfast, and says Larne, Newry, Newtownards and Clough are also at risk.

Police are advising residents in the Sydenham and Victoria Park areas of Belfast to pack a bag and prepare for evacuation, if necessary.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has also issued 17 flood warnings.

The flood risk extends along the UK coastline from north west England, through Wales, the South West and southern England.

Areas at particular risk include the Isles of Scilly, the north and south coasts of Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, the tidal reaches of the River Severn, and the coastline of Wales and Cumbria.

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The Thames Barrier in London has been closed to protect people and property along the river.

Communities in parts of the South East are braced for further deluges, with a risk of more flooding in Little Venice, Yalding, Kent.

In Sussex, police said coastal winds of up to 65mph, combined with high tides and low pressure, are likely to create storm surges.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson chaired an emergency meeting earlier in response to the flooding threat.

"We had a range of ministers from right across government attending, who will be working very closely with local councils, power companies, utilities and transport companies, making sure that all those organisations are absolutely prepared for the bad weather that is coming," he said.

"I would appeal to everyone to keep in very close touch with the warnings that are being put out on a regular basis by the Environment Agency, to pay heed to them, as these floods and the coast will be dangerous."

A search for a 27-year-old man who was swept out to sea while celebrating the new year on the beach with friends near Porthleven, in Cornwall, was called off on Thursday after a body was found.

That came after a woman, thought to be on holiday with her family, died in the surf in north Devon.

The coastguard is also searching for a man who is believed to have fallen into the River Stour, near Iford Bridge in Christchurch, Dorset.

And emergency services across the country are searching for several people who have not been seen since New Year's Eve.

Meanwhile, in Liphook, Hampshire, 300 homes lost power after lines were brought down in the stormy weather.

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