Saturday, June 9, 2012

Holidaymakers airlifted from caravan park as a torrent of flood water caused by June monsoon rages through the site in the early hours

-RAF winch nine people from flooded caravan park in West Wales
-Fire crews also rescue another 46 as rescue boats are called in
-Sea King helicopters, life boats and fire crews all called in to rescue dozens
-RNLI rescue have to be saved themselves after becoming stranded during rescue attempt
-Caravan site owner warns that water levels are still rising as coastal area waits for midday high tide
-Stunned holidaymakers tell how flood waters submerged 'everything in their way' after nearby river burst banks
-Met Office issues weather warnings for Wales, south-west England, the Midlands, London and the South East
-Gales claimed life of 18-year-old man yesterday when he was flung from his moped in Lancing, West Sussex
-'European monsoon' set to continue into next week with unsettled weather set to last at least a fortnight

By Chris Parsons

Submerged: Static homes at the Riverside Caravan Park in Aberystwyth suffer torrents of water following heavy rain overnight

Nearly 50 holidaymakers have been rescued from a flooded riverside caravan park this morning after serious flooding in West Wales.

Dozens of people had to be saved from torrents of overnight rain in Aberystwyth, with nine airlifted to safety due to the deluge of water.

Royal Air Force Sea King helicopters, inshore life boats and fire service rescue boats were called to the Riverside Caravan Park in Llandre, Bow Street, near Aberystwyth, where 'numerous people' need help.

The monsoon-like rainfall which has swept across parts of Britain in the past week is set to continue for most of the weekend, as forecasters predicted thundery showers in what is becoming a soggy summer.

Rescue: Life boats reach the corner of the caravan park, where torrential waters have partly-submerged cars and reached half-way up some of the holiday homes

Two cars are almost washed away as water levels reached several feet high this morning on the Welsh site

In West Wales earlier today, fire crews rescued 35 people using inshore life boats and a further 11 from a nearby caravan park.

Dramatic scenes even saw an RNLI rescue crew require airlifting themselves, after becoming stranded while attempting to save others from the torrents of water.

Holidaymakers have been pulled to safety this morning due to a 'heavy current of water running through the caravan park', according to the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

Washout: A man walks through a flooded street in Ceredigion, as a deluge of overnight water hit West Wales.

Fighting the tide: Fire crews survey the scene in Ceredigion as flood waters engulf one of the main streets.

Caravan residents told how they woke up in the middle of the night to see large parts of the site being submerged in water.

Katie Hughes, who had been in a caravan with her young children, told Sky News today: 'The first we knew about it was at about 3.40am when we were woken up.

'There was water everywhere and parts of the caravan were almost completely underwater.

'I've never seen anything like this but everyone is pulling together. It is the entire caravan park that has become on big river.

'The water has come from the side of the river and has just taken everything in its way.'

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said Milford Haven Coastguard were contacted by Dyfed Powys police at 4.30am requesting assistance at a caravan park at the side of the River Lery near Borth.

Chief Inspector Robin Mason, of Dyfed Powys Police, said it was difficult to give an exact number of those rescued, but said he was 'aware of about 30 to 40 people evacuated from various places' and there were 'probably more'.

Stephen South, the owner of the Riverside Caravan Park, told how a crew from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution had attempted to evacuate residents, but ended up having to be airlifted themselves.

Mr South told the Daily Telegraph that an RAF Sea King helicopter which had been airlifting residents from static homes also had to save the inshore lifeboat crew.

He said: 'At 2am the river that runs alongside the site breached the banks. It gradually got worse and we have been evacuating people ever since.

'They launched the life boat to get people but the force of the water swept the lifeboat into one of the buildings.

'The last people to be rescued were the lifeboat crew.'

He told the BBC: 'When caravan parks have about 2ft of water, people have been able to make their own way in an orderly manner.

'Since dawn, a lot of people have decided to leave by their own accord.'

He said some people were trapped in buildings, but added: 'However, they are upstairs.

'We have emergency rescue teams in the area with inflatables and we are in the process of evacuating people.'

Aberystwyth and Borth Coastguard rescue teams were called out as well as the Borth RNLI inshore lifeboat.

Monster: A huge wave crashes against the lighthouse at Porthcawl, South Wales as gale force winds are predicted to reach up to 80mph

Water logged: High winds and stormy seas lash the seaside town of Aberystwyth in Wales

Whoops: The 70mph winds in Poole, Dorset blew a roof at Sunseeker Yachts on top of one of the factory's 28metre super yachts, worth £5million. Ironically, the unnamed owner had been due to make the final payment on the boat today

White horses: Gale Force Winds cause enormous waves to crash against the sea wall and lighthouse at Porthcawl, Wales, left, while right, a surfer braves the swell at Coney Beach at Porthcawl

Not quite in the right place: The 42ft Yacht Iona worth £200,000, lies on the shingle at St Mawes, Cornwall after breaking her mooring last night in the heavy storm

A rescue helicopter was also requested and sent to the scene, the MCA said in a statement.

The rescue teams helped 20 people from their caravans, and two of them needed help from ambulance crews because of mobility difficulties.

The statement added there was concern for others at other caravan parks further down the river and coastguard rescue teams were deployed to them.

George Crumpler, Cambrian sector manager, said: 'We responded to the request for assistance and are evacuating those at risk with the help of the other emergency services.'

RAF search and rescue crew member Sergeant Dickie Myers told Sky News: 'We were airborne just after five o'clock, we were told there were floods in the area.

'We saw the river was fairly swollen, the water level was above car levels in some places, and up to the windows of static caravans.

'Thankfully there was an on scene coordinator from the coastguard.

'We did all we could, and when we left the area we felt we'd helped everybody that we could.'

Resident Sam Ebenezer, in Talybont, told the BBC: 'The amount of water is just amazing, it's flowing from higher ground, incredible scenes, it's devastating seeing close friends' housing being soaked all the way through.

'The fire crews have done an amazing job.

'Older residents are saying that in 60 years they've never seen the river as high as this. I think it's high tide at around 12 o'clock, we're hoping that's not going to make more mess.'

Running for cover: A sodden girl runs through the water left by crashing waves at Southsea, Portsmouth

Silly move: A man gets a drenching after standing on the sea wall at Southsea, left, while right, two men, brace the rain to jog along the front

Dark angel: A father and daughter brave dismal conditions to walk past the Angel of the North in Gateshead as the rain continues

Elsewhere, organisers have been forced to cancel an annual South Asian festival that regularly attracts over 100,000 visitors due to the bad weather.

The Bradford Mela, due to be held today, has been cancelled for safety reasons after the park in which it is held became heavily waterlogged.

The free event, which combines markets, funfairs, food and drink, arts, music, dance and children's activities, has been held at Peel Park in Bradford since 1998.

A statement on Bradford District Council's website read: 'The council's events organiser and parks managers assessed conditions at Peel Park this morning and the heavily waterlogged ground conditions left them with no other option but to cancel the Mela for safety reasons.

'Council officers deemed the huge infrastructure of the Mela, which consists of stages, marquees, fairground rides and temporary buildings, could be compromised by the soft and shifting ground in Peel Park. The Mela was organised for Saturday June 9 from 12pm until 8pm.

'Inspections revealed pools of standing water in key areas, including the car park. The Met Office adviser confirmed to us that there will be continued showers throughout today and overnight, meaning that the showers will add to already saturated ground.

'There were also concerns that attempts to use the park would severely damage the ground, including community football pitches, and would take several seasons of work to repair.'

Tree house: A firefighter clambers over a house, which was blown down by high winds on Cathedral road in Cardiff, South Wales

We're singing in the rain! One little girl, sensibly dressed in full wet-weather outfit, beams with delight as the waves crash against the sea wall in Clevedon, near Bristol

Soaked! A mother and child battle against the wind and spray from enormous waves in Clevedon, near Bristol

C'mon mum, it's fun: Heather Major isn't quite so sure as her daughters, Isobel, eight, right and Eloise, six, left, brave the waves in Clevedon, near Bristol, left, while right, a man watches as wall after wall of water hits the sea wall on the same front

Blowing in: A bedraggled family watch the waves as they walk thier dog along the Chesil beach in Portland, Dorset

Brolly annoying: Two women wrestle with their umbrellas in heavy rain in Birmingham



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