Heavy rain brings further floods

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Areas of north England and East Anglia were put on flood alert last night after rivers became dangerously swollen by heavy rain and melting snow.

Areas of north England and East Anglia were put on flood alert last night after rivers became dangerously swollen by heavy rain and melting snow.

The Tees rose three metres above its normal level near Darlington, forcing the evacuation of riverside homes. The Wear at Durham and Chester-le-Street and the river Gaunless at South Church were also put on severe flood warnings while lower-level alerts were issued for 24 other rivers. Further south, the Cam burst its banks at Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire, flooding homes and roads, and the railway station car park.

In Scotland, 18 people who had been trapped overnight on a snowbound train in the Highlands described their ordeal yesterday as heavy snow continued to cause problems.

Police rescued the passengers on the Scotrail service from Inverness to Wick, near John o'Groats, at 1.30am yesterday, six hours after it raninto a 10ft snow drift. The train, was travelling behind a snowplough when it got stuck, trapping 15 passengers and three crew.

Barbara Miller, 54, from Thurso, said the journey was difficult from the start. She said: "But you have to expect that when you live where we do. The lights and power in the carriage remained on throughout, and everyone was taking it in turns to walk up and down ... to get closer to the heaters.

"My son, who had just had surgery on his foot, was a bit uncomfortable but he survived all right. Everyone was thankful to get to the hotel this morning."

That train was one of two stuck on the same line yesterday - another ground to a halt between Thurso and Wick.

At the White Corries Ski Centre, Glencoe, a ski run was engulfed by an avalanche. The run was closed to the public at the time and police said there was nothing to suggest anyone was caught in the incident.

A landslide closed the main line between Glasgow and the Highlands, after melting snow loosened the earth near Stirling in central Scotland. Railtrack was unable to say when the track would reopen.

Scotland has struggled through a three-day long storm that cut power supplies to 16,000 people. Scottish & Southern Energy, the main electricity supplier to the Highlands region, said its engineers had managed to restore power to all but a handful of very isolated communities.

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