Accident toll mars sunshine holiday

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ACCIDENTS continued to mar the May Day break yesterday as a weekend of sunshine and high temperatures came to an end.

Four people drowned in separate accidents on Sunday. Two men died after a punt sank in a lake at Harefield, north-west London, another after trying to swim across the Thames at Pangbourne, Berkshire. An eight-year- old boy also drowned after falling into the River Calder in West Yorkshire.

Yesterday, a 39-year-old woman died after she slipped off a roof in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. In Anglesey, a waterskier was airlifted to hospital with back injuries after he cartwheeled while being towed.

A 71-year-old microlight pilot crashed near Cardigan, west Wales, injuring his chest and arms after his aircraft struck a tree. And eight people were injured when a hot-air balloon crashed on to a road at Williton, Somerset.

Two party-goers were hurt after a BMW car containing nine people rolled over on a beach at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, as they headed for an illegal rave.

Nine members of a tug-of-war team were taken to hospital in Newport on the Isle of Wight suffering from smoke inhalation after a flare was set off in a caravan while they slept, in a practical joke that went wrong.

The hot weather did, however, bring out the lighter side to Bank Holiday fun. Thirty teams took part in the 11th international earthworm-charming festival in Blackawton village, Devon. Water was enough to tempt 98 worms to the surface in 15 minutes - a simple solution giving victory to the Church Hills Charmers.

As the holiday drew to a close last night, heavy traffic was reported on the A1 in Tyneside, which had a four-mile tailback on its southbound carriageway, and a five-mile traffic jam was reported on the A303 in Wiltshire.

The AA attended almost 50,000 breakdowns during the May Day holiday, many for overheated engines. Temperatures of up to 20C were recorded during the weekend, which outshone parts of the eastern Mediterranean.

(Photograph omitted)