Developing

UK Floods: Homes Evacuated And Travel Disrupted

Hundreds of homes have been evacuated and dozens of cars abandoned by drivers after widespread flooding across the UK.

Flood warnings are in place across Britain as rivers burst their banks and forecasters say there is more bad weather to come.

The North East has been worst affected, with towns such as Morpeth, Chester-le-Street, Stockton on Tees and parts of Newcastle badly hit.

Other areas in England, Wales and Scotland have also been flooded, with 79 flood warnings and 143 flood alerts currently in place.

More than 300 properties have flooded since Sunday. Over a month's worth of rain fell in just one day in some parts of the country.

A modern block of flats had to be evacuated in Newburn, Newcastle, after its foundations appeared to have been washed away.

The development at Spencer Court was the scene of problems following heavy rain earlier this summer.

Police put a cordon around the building amid fears that it could collapse and tonight the area around it was said to be like a "ghost town" as it was subject to a power failure.

There has been widespread disruption to travel after roads were closed and long delays to rail services. The A1 and the East Coast Main Line were among the routes hit by the conditions.

The Met Office said many places have had between 50mm and 70mm (2in to 2.8in) rain in the past 48 hours.

Heavy rain and strong winds are forecast to return to some southern areas with 20mm to 40mm (0.8in to 1.6in) likely in places into Wednesday. There is also no sign of the downpours easing in the Midlands.

Among the other properties evacuated was a council care home at Gilling West, in North Yorkshire.

The Oswin Grove Unit's 19 pensioners had to be carried to safety by firefighters after it became swamped by 3ft of water.

Parts of the UK are also experiencing strong winds, with gusts over 60mph across parts of Scotland and Ireland at times.

The Environment Agency is urging people to sign up to its flood alerts and has issued guidance to residents who may be affected by flooding.

Kath Evans, from the Environment Agency, told Sky News that the situation had been made worse by the wet summer.

"With the rainfall over the summer and more falling over the last 24 to 36 hours, it has caused this widespread flooding," she said.

She said they were watching areas around the River Ouse in Yorkshire and the River Severn as the water moved downstream and would "urge people to keep an eye out and listen out for flood warnings".

Communities in Yorkshire, the North West and North Wales were urged to remain on guard for further floods.

In Morpeth, parts of the town were evacuated as a precaution before the river burst its banks and some 40 stranded residents were rescued using lifeboats, although water levels later appeared to have peaked.

Heavy rain sent cars careering down the River Coquet and homes were flooded in Rothbury, Northumberland, with at least two more flooded in Thropton and Netherton.

Hebden Bridge, which suffered severe flooding twice this summer, appeared to have escaped further damage as river levels seemed to level off just below bank tops.

About 50 properties in and around Wearside were evacuated, Sunderland City Council said. A number of roads and two primary schools were closed and residents were warned refuse collections could be disrupted.

Emergency services evacuated around 30 properties in Hartburn, Stockton, Teesside, as water levels rose, and a crew of refuse collectors had to be rescued by firefighters at Eryholme, North Yorkshire, when a river burst its banks and swamped their truck.

The A1 was closed near Catterick in both directions and is not expected to reopen until Wednesday morning. The A66 was closed in both directions near Darlington as a result of flooding.

In Durham, police threatened to prosecute impatient drivers who tried to use closed roads.

There was no service on the East Coast Main Line between York and Newcastle for much of the day because of flooding at Eryholme, near Northallerton, preventing the running of services between London and Scotland.

East Coast Trains advised people not to travel and said tickets for Tuesday would be valid on trains on Wednesday. The West Coast line remained open.

Disruption and delays hit a number of other railway lines in northern England and Wales.

The heavy rain is due to an area of low pressure which moved north across the country from the Bay of Biscay.

The Met Office said an area of low pressure measuring 973 millibars had been recorded near the coast of the north east of England - the lowest in the UK for September since 1981.

Meanwhile, an inquest was opened at West London Coroner's Court into the death of a woman struck by a falling tree branch in Kew Gardens on Sunday.

New Zealand-born account manager Erena Wilson, 31, died instantly while walking in the gardens with friends.