Heavy rain sparks floods in England

2010-11-17 16:18

London - Heavy rain and gales sparked floods and landslides in southwest England on Wednesday, disrupting travel and trapping people in their homes.

Police said they are dealing with a "major incident", with flooding in several areas of the coastal county of Cornwall.

Devon and Cornwall Police said parts of the towns of St Austell and St Blazey were impassable, and people had been trapped in cars and houses.

Barry Green, owner of a bakery in the riverside town of Lostwithiel, said floodwaters had risen rapidly.

"One minute I was making bread, the next I was wading waist high through muddy water," he said. "We've had people coming in to help but it's pretty much destroyed the shop."

The Maritime and Coastguard agency said two search-and-rescue helicopters had been scrambled to help people trapped in cars, and more emergency workers were on standby amid reports of water 1.5m deep in places. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

All rail services to Cornwall were suspended after a landslide blocked the line.

Cornwall has experienced severe floods before, most recently in 2004, when the town of Boscastle suffered major damage when flash floods sent a wall of water pouring through the streets.