UK death toll reaches eight as flood levels rise

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The Independent Online
EIGHT PEOPLE died and hundreds of homes were evacuated after torrential rain caused flooding across Britain over the Christmas period.

Hundreds of homes across the South continued to be at risk from flooding. In Northern Ireland and Scotland, snow and black ice have been causing chaos on the roads.

Almost 48 hours of continuous rain has left rivers in Kent and Sussex flowing dangerously fast. Red warnings were in place on the rivers Ouse and Cuckmere in East Sussex.

There were also 30 amber warnings on rivers and the coastline of Kent and Sussex, while there was extensive flooding of farmland in the Romney Marshes in Kent.

Portsmouth harbour was on amber alert, while the rest of the Hampshire coast was on yellow alert. Red alerts were in place on the River Wye between Hereford and Ross-on-Wye, and on the River Dee, north Wales.

Warnings were expected to remain in place on the lower Severn around Tewkesbury and Gloucester. In East Anglia, many rivers were swollen and the ground was at saturation point. The level of the Thames was expected to continue rising.

Ray Kemp, a spokesman for the Environment Agency, warned that trees blocking rivers would cause flooding because of the volume of water in the waterways.

An accident in which two children were killed and a third injured while travelling in a police car on the way to a refuge could have been caused by ice on the road. Four-year-old Sid Price was critically injured when a police car he was travelling in with his mother, Shelleen, his twin brother, Neza, and two-year-old sister, Claudette, was involved in the multiple-car accident in Co Durham.

Four people remained in a serious condition last night after a sudden hailstorm on the M6 at Leyland, Lancashire, caused a 20-vehicle pile-up on Boxing Day.

A coach that crashed on Boxing Day in an Austrian mountain pass near Innervillgraten, injuring a party of British tourists, is thought to have skidded on ice. Seven passengers were still in hospital yesterday.