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South-west storms spark heavy flooding

People have been rescued from their homes after heavy rain and gale-force winds led to heavy flooding in Cornwall.

Devon and Cornwall police said it was dealing with a “major flooding incident” after heavy rain overnight around St Austell, Cornwall.

There have been no reports of serious injuries but people are being advised not to travel.

The rain and flooding caused serious disruption to parts of Cornwall. Some main roads closed, a landslide at Lostwithiel stopped train services in and out of Cornwall and some schools were shut.

Bodmin, St Austell, Par, Luxulyan, Lostwithiel, St Blazey and St Blazey Gate were badly affected and in Portloe an empty car was swept into the harbour.

The A30 was closed across Bodmin Moor after a lorry shed its load but has since re-opened. The A390 is closed between St Austell and Par and part of the A38 through Glynn Valley was also closed.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said: “Emergency services and partner agencies in Cornwall are dealing with incidents of flooding in parts of the county.

“Due to heavy rainfall overnight, parts of mid and north Cornwall have been affected by serious flooding. Areas of St Austell and St Blazey are impassable and people have been trapped in their cars and homes.”

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said coastguard rescue teams were assisting police following the flooding.

“Two search and rescue aircraft from the Royal Naval Air base at Culdrose and RAF Chivenor were launched earlier to survey the scene at St Blazey where 600mm of water was reported on the local highway, and people were reportedly trapped in their cars,” a spokesman said.

“The aircraft was also diverted to Portloe where a car was being washed into the sea. Fortunately no one was inside.”

Rescue teams are now on standby to provide communications links as floodwater rises in Mevagissey, a fishing village at the mouth off a river conveying floodwaters.

“The South Cornwall sector manager leading the Mevagissey team are assisting the other emergency services in evacuating flood victims from the centre of the town to a rescue centre,” said the spokesman. He said there were local reports of water being 1.5m deep in some places.

“Par and St Austell are also areas of concern and Coastguard teams are on standby to assist around the River Neat area as the water rises,” the spokesman added.

The Environment Agency said it was a “serious incident” and that flood defences were being checked for damage.

“The Environment Agency has deployed teams to check river flood defences and to assist emergency services with the recovery process,” said a spokesman.

“The joint Environment Agency/Met Office Flood Forecasting Centre issued an extreme rainfall alert yesterday afternoon to give emergency responders and local authorities advance warning of the heavy rain overnight, which has mainly resulted in flooding from drains and surface water run-off.”

The Eden Project, a popular tourist attraction near St Austell, has been forced to close because of flooding.

Gillian Avery, who runs a guest house in the area of St Austell Bay, said she had not seen flooding like it since the 1990s.

A spokesman for First Great Western, which runs rail services between Cornwall and London, said the landslip was causing disruption to services.

“Services between Liskeard and Par and have been suspended until further notice due to a land slip. Engineers are working as fast as possible to restore services to normal,” he said.

“Limited replacement road transport is in operation. Customers are advised only to travel if journeys are essential.”

Stephen Ellison, a meteorologist with MeteoGroup, said there was heavy rain over Cornwall last night.

“The rainfall across Cornwall was as a result of an occlusion moving from the west associated with an area of low pressure to the west of Ireland,” he said.

“Cardinham, on Bodmin, recorded 18.8mm in one hour and 50mm in nine hours. However there are reports of higher totals, possibility up to 75mm in 12 hours, although they aren’t official rain gauges.”

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