Britain battered by Atlantic storms

Worst series of winter storms in more than 20 with more likely over the next 24 hours

Locals walk through the debris-ridden promenade in Aberystwyth, West Wales, after taking a battering from waves driven by storm-force winds. Photograph: EPA/Dimitris Legakis

Locals walk through the debris-ridden promenade in Aberystwyth, West Wales, after taking a battering from waves driven by storm-force winds. Photograph: EPA/Dimitris Legakis

 

The UK is enduring the worst series of winter storms in more than 20 years and weather experts there have warned that even more flooding is likely over the next 24 hours.

The British Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings of ice and rain, predicting river and surface flooding as well as travel disruption mainly in south Wales and the south west and south east of England.

Up to 40mm of rain could fall in higher ground. Inland rainfall will put pressure on rivers, endangering nearby communities including those along the River Medway in Kent, the River Thames in Oxford and Osney and the River Severn Estuary in Gloucestershire.

The Thames barrier will remain closed to protect land near the river. The strong winds, persistent rain and tidal waves are predicted to the batter the UK for at least another two days, as emergency services attempt to cope with the trail of devastation already created by the severe weather.

Cliff collapse

Searches resumed in south Devon this morning for missing 18-year-old university student Harry Martin, who was last seen leaving his home to take photographs of the weather — with more than 100 people volunteering to look for him.

Two people have already died in the storms. A 27-year-old man from Surrey was found on Porthleven Sands beach in Cornwall after he was swept out to sea on New Year’s Eve night, and a woman died after being rescued from the sea in Croyde Bay, north Devon.

Officials around the country have pleaded with people to keep away as dozens put their lives at risk by going to coastal areas to watch as the storm brought waves of up to 40ft high crashing onto land.

A man and child were almost swept away by a huge wave at Mullion Cove in Cornwall as they peered over the sea wall to watch the raging sea, and elsewhere in Cornwall vehicles driving on a coastal road were swamped and almost washed away by a tidal surge.

Police pulled a man from the sea who had been drinking at Towan Beach, Newquay, after he had ignored warnings about the fierce storms. In Aberystwyth, Dyfed, a man was rescued by lifeboat after he became trapped when photographing waves from a harbour jetty.

Emergency services rescued four people from a flooded farm in Llanbedr near Barmouth, north west Wales, the River Severn burst its banks in Gloucestershire for the second day running and a pregnant woman was rescued after 30 properties were flooded in Cardigan, mid-Wales. Part of the sea wall behind the Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe collapsed because of the storms. The coastal surge in recent days has tested over 3,000km (1,864 miles) of flood defences in England and over 205,000 properties have been protected.