Flooded supermarket looted of alcohol as 300 people watch

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FOUR MEN and two boys were arrested after looters, watched by 300 people, pushed shopping trolleys through 4ft of water to grab cans and bottles of alcohol washed out of a flooded supermarket in Uckfield, East Sussex.

The incident happened after the river Uck burst its banks and floodwaters caved in the window of the supermarket and several other stores in the town centre, causing tens of thousands of pounds in damage.

Four of those held were released on police bail while two were cautioned. Police were yesterday seeking another 15 suspected looters, and were intending to view videos of the flooding taken by sightseers. A spokesman said: 'Last night's flooding brought out the best and the worst in people.'

Weather forecasters warned of a soggy start to 1994 as towns across southern England mopped up at the end of the wettest month of the wettest year since 1981.

At Barnham, near Bognor Regis in West Sussex, 14 people were rescued from their homes in inflatable lifeboats and 35 more residents living near the railway station were shepherded to safety. A spokesman for Sussex police said its control room had received 'well over 400 calls' relating to flooding.

Among the worst-hit locations was Polperro in Cornwall, where a wall of water up to 7ft deep ripped through the narrow streets of the fishing village, causing hundreds of thousands of pounds in damage. At the height of the area's worst flooding for 17 years, the river Pol turned into a torrent and swept cars along 'like dodgems'.

With some rivers still in danger of bursting their banks, forecasters said the new year would begin with heavy rain throughout the United Kingdom and sleet and snow over northern hills.

In Scotland, heavy snow brought Hogmanay cheer to ski operators, with more than 2,500 skiers yesterday on the Nevis Range slopes near Fort William. Ian Sykes, managing director of the ski field, said: 'This is the boost all the Scottish ski areas have been needing for the past few years. Long may it continue.'