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Mayhem and misery as heavy rains cause floods.

Byline: BY LIAM CHRISTOPHER Daily Post Correspondent

INTENSE thunderstorms wreaked havoc across parts of Britain yesterday, as floods blocked roads and train lines, left factory workers trapped, shut schools and prompted hundreds of calls to the emergency services.

A major search was also launched for a young missing soldier who was swept away while attempting to cross a swollen beck while on a "routine exercise".

Three soldiers fell into Risedale Beck on Hipswell Moor, near Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire Police said.

Two were rescued, but soldiers, police, Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team and an RAF helicopter were involved in the hunt for the third soldier.

And more than 40 workers were trapped inside their factory after floodwaters up to 6ft deep encircled the building.

Night shift workers at toolmaker WH Smith & Sons in Minworth, West Midlands, had been due to clock off at 8am.

Manufacturing manager Dennis Rodway said staff had been advised to shelter on the first floor of the two-storey factory after the nearby River Tame burst its banks.

"We have still got power and nobody is going to starve," Mr Rodway joked. "It's just a matter of sitting it out."

West Midlands Ambulance Service said the trapped people were not at risk but were waiting for water levels to drop before they left the building.

A 14-year-old boy was rescued from a swollen stream in Sheffield after 41-year-old Craig Stenton waded in and grabbed him.

The youngster fell into a beck in the Chapeltown area of Sheffield, at midday.

Mr Stenton, who heard the teenager screaming for help, said: "I could see a kid swirling around in the water. He had hit his head on a bridge and had taken in a lot of dirty water but he was OK."

A forecaster for MeteoGroup UK, the weather division of the Press Association, said a squall line of thunderstorms, stretching from east to west was gradually moving up the country and over the M6 motorway. The rain would gradually ease off, but the downpour would remain around North East Wales and North West England overnight, the forecaster added.

Temperatures were around average, with the highest being 22 deg (71.6 deg F) in Cambridgeshire.

The Environment Agency had more than 40 flood warnings in place yesterday.

Bingley near Bradford in West Yorkshire, was a particular wet spot, after being deluged with 2.8in (71mm) of rain in 24 hours. In York, yesterday's race meeting at the Knavesmire course was called off as was the first day of the fourth test match between England and the West Indies in Durham.

Further north, in Ripon, the River Ure burst its banks and soldiers helped a number of resident evacuate their homes.

Fire crews were last night pumping water out of 200 homes in Birmingham, with water up to five-feet deep in Aston.

I could see a swirling around in the water

CAPTION(S):

Fire and rescue officers check riverside properties in Ripon, after the River Ure burst its banks
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 16, 2007
Words:498
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