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England floods: Driver dies crossing swollen ford

  • 4-30-2012

A 52-year-old man has died after his car became submerged at a ford in Hampshire, as heavy rainfall threatened flooding across large parts of England.

The Badminton Horse Trials, in Gloucestershire, have been cancelled for the second time in their history because of a waterlogged course.

Tewkesbury, which suffered severe flooding five years ago, is among the areas affected by heavy rain.

The Met Office has said the past month was the wettest April in a century.

In Somerset, the Environment Agency has issued flood alerts for every river.

In Hampshire, police were called shortly after 09:00 BST to Compton Wood, near Newbury, after a Toyota Yaris car became trapped at a ford at Headley on Thornford Road.

The man was freed through the car window but paramedics were unable to resuscitate him and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Flood incident rooms

The man's wife, 54, who was driving, managed to swim free of the car and was taken to hospital in Basingstoke suffering from shock.

Police said the couple are from the Middlesex area.

A pet dog in the car also died in the incident.

A Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said when the the car had been found it had been "completely submerged under 5ft of fast-flowing water".

The Environment Agency has imposed 37flood warnings - which mean flooding is expected - across the South West, North East, Midlands and the Anglian area, with 21 in the South West alone.

There are also currently 153 flood alerts - which mean flooding is possible - across the country, with 41 in the South West, 37 in the Midlands, 43 in the South East and 19 in the Anglian region.

'On High Alert'

The agency has confirmed that only 20 properties across the country have been flooded and unfinished flood defences in Upton upon Severn, which were shored up at the weekend, have kept water out of the town.

But an agency spokeswoman said they remained on high alert for flooding into Tuesday across southern England, particularly in Somerset, Dorset and Devon.

"After a very wet weekend conditions have generally improved today, but further rain forecast for tonight means that there is still a risk of flooding across many parts of England and Wales," she said.

The Met Office has confirmed that many observation sites across the UK have broken their individual rainfall records.

"The UK has already seen 121.8mm of rain so far - significantly more than the 69.6mm you would normally expect for the month and beating the previous record of 120.3mm set in 2000," a Met Office spokesman said.

"Liscombe in Somerset has seen the most rainfall, with 273.8mm of rain - more than three times the 86.4mm average."

'Exceptional rainfall'

The Badminton Horse Trials had been due to take place between Thursday and Monday.

Event director Hugh Thomas said: "The recent exceptional rainfall has left the ground at Badminton totally waterlogged and partially flooded.

"Further rain is due this week, leaving no chance of the ground drying out.

"Purchasers of advance tickets, exhibitors, sponsors and riders will of course be refunded as soon as is practical."

The event has only been cancelled once before, in 2001, due to foot-and-mouth disease.

In Devon, the Living Coasts wildlife park near Haldon Pier, in Torquay, was closed due to large waves making parts of the site unsafe for visitors.

The Environment Agency set up an incident room in Tewkesbury but said the town had only suffered some localised flooding but "nothing unusual for the area".

Flood incident rooms were also set up elsewhere in the Midlands and South West to ensure the capacity was there to deal with any major incidents.

The rooms remain open to look at forecasts.

'Reached their peak'

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said river levels were beginning to fall in the South West, but urged people to keep an eye on flood alerts.

"There was a period of respite early evening then more downpours late night, early morning," she said.

"At the moment the rivers seem to have reached their peak. They're still high, but it looks as if they're starting to fall.

"There were no properties flooded by rivers."

Torrential rain has also caused flooding on railways across the country.

A Network Rail spokesman said: "Trains are currently being diverted between Swindon and Bristol Temple Meads owing to flooding in the Chipping Sodbury area."

There is a flood warning on the River Severn at Deerhurst, Apperley and The Leigh, and Ashleworth.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2012 BBC

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