Storm wrecks entire regatta fleet

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The Independent Online
ALL 156 SAILORS competing in a regatta off the Dorset coast had to be rescued from the sea after a sudden squall of up to 60mph capsized their boats.

The devastating winds struck towards the end of the Dart 18 Catamaran national championship off Weymouth. The regatta's organisers insisted that they had not been irresponsible in allowing the event to go ahead despite daylong weather warnings of possible gale-force winds.

Within three hours of the dramatic sea rescue being set in motion all the sailors were reported safe. However, a 37-year-old woman with reported hypothermia had to be airlifted to the Dorset county hospital.

Yesterday's storms and torrential rain, which swept in from France overnight, caused flooding, power cuts and road chaos in southern England before sweeping towards the Midlands and the North.

Yesterday, six-year-old Liam Mohammed Zaid was feared drowned after he fell into the fast-flowing Stour river at Cradley in the West Midlands. A search for the boy by 40 police officers and fire crews had to be called off at dark last night.

The storm, known as the Spanish Plume by meteorologists, caused nearly a month's worth of rain to fall in some areas. The torrential rain was caused by the shift of a warm and humid pool of air from Spain and France. The highest rainfall was recorded at Heathrow, west of London, with 51mm, the total for an average June.

In Hampshire, fire crews dealt with 108 weather-related incidents. More than 500 people were evacuated from a nightclub in Southampton, in Hampshire, when the roof collapsed under the weight of rainwater.There was a catalogue of delays and accidents on roads and railways across the country.