Gales, torrential rain and flooding sweep country

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Woman killed by falling tree while hundreds of homes are damaged and more heavy rains are predicted for the beginning of this week

Large parts of the South-west were on flood alert last night after torrential rains damaged hundreds of homes while high winds were blamed for a woman's death.

With more heavy rains predicted for the start of this week some 271 flood alerts and more than 220 flood warnings remained in place across England and Wales yesterday.

Eddy Carroll, the Met Office's chief forecaster, said: "The very unsettled run of weather is set to continue with further spells of wet and windy weather expected across the country over the next few days."

The South-west was the hard- est-hit region with widespread flooding, torrential downpours and gales damaging hundreds of properties. But the damage also extended to parts of Worcestershire and Wiltshire. The Environment Agency last night confirmed that across England and Wales a total of 816 homes had been affected by flooding. In Exeter city centre on Saturday night a 21-year-old homeless woman died when a large spruce tree smashed into her tent after being blown down by gusts of more than 60mph. Two other men were seriously injured in the incident.

A 70-year-old man died after his car crashed into a swollen river near Earith, Cambridgeshire, on Saturday. But local police claimed the accident could have happened "at any time" of the year.

Hundreds of Cornish residents were evacuated from homes as floods caused "serious threats to life" in many villages. Cornwall Council set up special rest centres in many of the worst-hit villages with around 230 staff sent into help.

Severe flood warnings were issued by the Environment Agency in Lostwithiel, Helston, Polperro and Perranporth, where rivers were threatening to burst their banks.

Travelling by road in the region was reported to be nigh on impossible with floods blocking dozens of routes, including the M5 and M50.

People were left stranded in their homes in Newlyn in Cornwall, while roads in Bovey Tracey in Devon were turned into rivers as water poured down them.

Prime Minister David Cameron pledged that the Government would assist flood victims. "Shocking scenes of flooding in Cornwall and around the country," he tweeted.

Richard Benyon, the floods minister, said more than 500 properties had been flooded but claimed 24,000 homes in the South-west had been protected by new flood defences.

However, at Kempsey in Worces-tershire, new £1m water pumps, designed to protect the village against flooding of the river Severn, failed at around 5am yesterday.

The river Avon flooded the historic town of Malmesbury, Wiltshire, forcing residents from their homes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine