Ten die as floods and storms bring pounds 200m havoc to Britain

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STORMS CLAIMED the lives of at least 10 people yesterday as Britain was lashed by gales. Weather forecasters said there would be more gales and rain tomorrow, writes Mark Rowe.

The South-west, Wales and the English Channel coast took the brunt of what the Met Office called a "vigorous" depression in the Atlantic, with ferry services to France halted.

The storms swept across virtually the whole of the United Kingdom with the number of flood warnings in force across the country at one point reaching 115. Four people died when two cars crashed head-on on the A449 near Malvern, Worcestershire, while three men were killed in a crash on the A54 near Congleton, Cheshire.

Two canoeists drowned in separate accidents, one on the River Dart near Holne on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon, and another on the River Barle at Dulverton on Exmoor.

Wales and the South-west of England had their worst floods for 20 years. Police searching for a man who fell into the River Rhondda at Treorchy, Glamorgan, recovered a body. In Herefordshire on the Welsh border, police suspended a search for a farmer who disappeared near the River Wye.

Thousands of acres of farmland were under water across south Wales from Cardiganshire to Monmouthshire, forcing 400 people to move from their homes. Cardiff railway station was closed.

"It's a pretty unpleasant picture. The whole country has had a lot of strong wind and this has been followed by squalls and showers," said a spokesman for the Met Office.

Driving conditions in the South-west were "very hazardous", according to the AA and motorists in the worst-hit areas were advised to delay their journeys.

Insurers estimate that the storm damage could top pounds 200m by tonight.