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Drama on river as crews launch rescue operation.

Byline: AAMIR MOHAMMED, LAURA CLEMENTS AND ROBERT LLOYD echo.newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk

A HUGE fleet of emergency service vehicles rushed to a water rescue mission on the banks of a river in Cardiff last night.

Witnesses described a large multiagency operation which included firefighters, paramedics, police, coastguard and an air ambulance. The fire service confirmed crews were attending a "water rescue" on the River Rhymney.

Further details of any casualties, including their condition, were not immediately available last night.

The incident came as Storm Ellen blasted across South Wales, bringing flood alerts, power cuts, road and bridge closures and some structural damage to properties.

At last night's incident, near Ball Road in Llanrumney, search boats and a search helicopter were deployed, with teams seen searching the river.

Witnesses said there were "dozens" of emergency services at the scene at around 7pm.

Dan Cooper, 22, from St Mellons, said: "I was driving down and saw two fire engines shoot past us. As we followed up the road we were told to move back and couldn't get any closer.

"Everyone here is so worried. We haven't seen anything like this before."

Another member of the public, who did not wish to be named, said: "There is a huge sense of panic here, especially now because more emergency services have arrived."

An air ambulance was spotted flying over Cardiff from the University Hospital of Wales towards the scene. It came amid atrocious weather conditions across the nation, with a yellow "be alert" Met Office weather warning covering the whole of Wales - and at one stage there were 17 flood warnings.

Elsewhere, the weather combined with extra-high "spring tides" to cause treacherous conditions along the coast.

There were problems across the UK. A holidaymaker died and a teenage boy was last night recovering in hospital after they both got into difficulties in the sea off the Cornish coast.

The M48 Severn Bridge was closed in both directions.

There were also speed restrictions due to high winds on the M4.

Rhigos Road, in Rhondda Cynon Taf, was closed in both directions because of a fallen tree between Halt Road and Mount Road.

And Western Power Distribution (WPD) said it was called to a series of power cuts caused by the high winds.

In total, more than 1,600 customers in Wales had no power at one stage.

Cardiff had 384 properties off the grid.

RNLI lifeguards said several beaches would be "red-flagged" for no swimming until tomorrow.

Porthcawl proved to be a magnet for photographers keen to capture the waves crashing over the breakwater.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) warned flood alerts could remain in force until tomorrow, but the peak in water levels was likely to be over by this morning.

NRW's own flood alerts were in force in a number of locations, including Llantwit Major.

Two people were rescued by lifeboat crews and coastguards after getting cut off on Swansea's West Pier because of a "very high tide".

And despite the warnings to take care on the coast, a man was pictured doing backflips into stormy seas as Storm Ellen hit the Welsh coastline on Thursday evening.

As waves pummelled into the concrete seawall, three unknown men took it in turns to launch themselves into the water at Saundersfoot in Pembrokeshire.

Dave Richards, harbourmaster at Saundersfoot, said the actions of the three men were "totally stupid" and risked putting unnecessary strain on the RNLI and Coastguard at peak summertime.

CAPTION(S):

Members of the rescue team at the water's edge on the Rhymney River and, inset, some of the rescue vehicles at the scene RICHARD SWINGLER
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Author:AAMIR MOHAMMED, LAURA CLEMENTS AND ROBERT LLOYD echo.newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 22, 2020
Words:603
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