Fears for girls swept into river as floods hit country

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The Independent Online

An air and land search was under way in Yorkshire last night after two teenage girls on a school trip were swept into a river swollen by flood water.

An air and land search was under way in Yorkshire last night after two teenage girls on a school trip were swept into a river swollen by flood water.

Cave rescue teams were called and a police helicopter launched after two 14-year-old girls fell into Stainforth beck, near Settle. A search of the area, near a waterfall where the beck joins the river Ribble, failed to find any trace of the teenagers and rescue teams were concentrating their hunt on the river.

Meanwhile, in the south of the country, homeowners and emergency services were bracing themselves for further gales and rain after Monday night's freak storms and floods.

Monday's torrential downpours left scores of homes flooded, rendered hundreds of roads impassable and caused mudslides as rivers and drains proved unable to cope with the deluge. In White Notley, Essex, 39 youngsters and two adults escaped from a school bus unscathed when an overhead electricity cable collapsed on top of the vehicle in high winds.

Rain in Scotland left one village, Portpatrick, partially cut off by standing water and the primary school was turned into an emergency refuge as homes had floods up to a metre high.Some roads in Central Scotland were closed as motorists became stranded in water.

The Environment Agency, which quickly issued its new Flood Watch alert on several rivers in Hampshire and East and West Sussex, sent its emergency planning unit to Bognor Regis, where flooded homes had to be evacuated.

On the Isle of Wight, one of the worst-hit areas, 18 hours of rain made more than 100 roads impassable and forced drivers to abandon their cars. Wroxall recorded the South's highest rainfall of 56.6mm, more than half the area's total average October rainfall of 75mm.

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