Rain this evening will bring more flood misery

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Heavy rain forecast to sweep across Britain tonight could bring more flooding misery to hundreds of homeowners.

Heavy rain forecast to sweep across Britain tonight could bring more flooding misery to hundreds of homeowners.

A band of rain is expected to cross southern Britain tonight and tomorrow, avoiding waterlogged areas in the North but remaining over the South East for up to 48 hours.

Predicted rainfall levels of up to two inches (50mm) could mean disaster for towns and villages which have already been hit hard by widespread flooding.

Kent, Sussex and areas of Berkshire, already been hit, are feared to be at risk from further rain tonight and tomorrow.

The showers will spread from the South West today, reaching London by nightfall, and will remain over the South East for most of tomorrow, forecasters say.

About 5,000 properties across Britain have been affected by the recent floods and hundreds of people are still unable to return to their homes.

The Environment Agency still has 25 severe flood warnings in force on rivers deemed to pose an "imminent danger" to life and property.

The agency said the area of land under flood waters to the south of York and Selby was now bigger than Windermere.

It estimated that the area between Castleford, Selby, Goole and Doncaster was holding approximately one third of a billion tonnes of water.

Police said today that 30 pumps at work near Selby were starting to produce a drop in flood water levels, but warned there were still serious flood risks.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon visited areas flooded by the River Ouse in Selby and York yesterday to meet the troops who have helped build defences using more than 250,000 sandbags.

The commanding officer of the Second Division of the Army, Major General Robert Gordon, was due to visit soldiers in the area today.

Forecasters have predicted that England and Wales could be heading for the wettest autumn since records began 273 years ago and many crucial rail and road links remain closed.

Insurance giant Royal & Sun Alliance said the weather in the UK and Europe was likely to cost it between £80 million and £110 million.

But the number of severe flood warnings in place today has dropped to just 16, the Environment Agency said.

Eight warnings were still in place in the north east, five in the Midlands, one in Wales and two in the south east, an agency spokeswoman said.