Thames Barrier closed again to protect capital

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The Independent Online

The Thames Barrier was closed for the third time in two days today to protect London from a combination of high tides and swollen rivers following heavy rainfall over the weekend.

But the Environment Agency said the risk of flooding across England and Wales was easing, and the number of flood warnings and watches in place is expected to decrease.

The flooding risk rose after days of heavy rain swelled rivers and saturated the ground.

A storm which left at least 51 people dead in France, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Belgium passed over Britain and brought downpours.

Vanessa Robson, 53, from Beverley, East Yorkshire, died after her Land Rover was swept down a swollen river at Hartoft, on the North Yorkshire Moors, on Friday.

And in York, the River Ouse and River Foss were being searched by police and fire crews today after 18-year-old Jonathan Havron, from Huntington in the city, went missing over the weekend.

There are currently 17 flood warnings and 135 flood watches in place across England and Wales.

The Environment Agency said there continued to be a low risk of flooding from the sea along the north-east, east and south coasts of England due to a combination of high tides and high river levels.

Craig Woolhouse, the agency's head of incident management, said: "We are continuing to closely monitor river and sea levels, but many of the flood warnings we issued are being downgraded."

He said that with the current high tides, there was still a risk of coastal flooding, and urged people to remain vigilant.

Tomorrow is expected to be dry and sunny but things could turn colder by the end of the week.