30 Apr 2012

Man dies in trapped car as flood fears increase

Home Affairs Correspondent

A man dies as his car is trapped in a fast-flowing flood in Hampshire. Elsewhere, heavy rain forces the cancellation of the Badminton horse trials in Gloucestershire.

Officers were called to Compton Wood in Hampshire, this morning after they received reports of the trapped vehicle, which had been trying to drive across a ford at the time.

A woman was able to escape from the car but the man had to be recovered from it and was pronounced dead at the scene. The dog also died in the incident, according to fire crews who attended.

A Hampshire Police spokesman said: “A man has died after the car he was travelling in was submerged in water near Newbury.

“A woman was able to get out of the vehicle but a man was recovered from it. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“The woman was taken to Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, where she is being treated for shock.”

‘Situation improving’

The tragedy follows a weekend of downpours and winds of up to 70mph in south west England and Wales, which brought down trees, left thousands of homes without power and disrupted rail services, the Environment Agency said the situation was improving today.

While flood waters had swept into low-lying fields and some roads, only around 20 properties had flooded across the country.

Unfinished flood defences in Upton-on-Severn, which had to be shored up over the weekend, had kept water out and Tewkesbury, badly hit during the 2007 floods, had experienced some localised flooding but nothing unusual for the area, the Environment Agency said.

However, 37 flood warnings and almost 140 less serious flood alerts are still in place today for England and Wales, with most of the warnings concentrated in the south west.

The Environment Agency said southern England looked set to receive another 20mm to 30mm of rain overnight, raising concerns over how already-saturated river catchments would cope with the latest downpours.

First Great Western services were being affected by flooding today between Swindon and Bristol Parkway, with a reduced train service running between London Paddington and Cardiff and Swansea and diversions in place in both directions.

Trains are not calling at Bristol Parkway but will call additionally at Patchway, and a bus service is running between Patchway and Bristol Parkway. First Great Western warned journey times would be extended by up to 50 minutes.

Badminton ‘totally waterlogged’

The Badminton horse trials fell victim to the weather, with organisers announcing the equestrian competition had been cancelled as the ground was “totally waterlogged and partially flooded” following the heavy rain.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had been due to attend the final day of the trials, which were to have run from Thursday to next Monday, to watch the showjumping element and present the final prizes.

But event director Hugh Thomas issued a statement this morning which read: “The recent exceptional rainfall has left the ground at Badminton totally waterlogged and partially flooded.

“Further rain is due this week leaving no chance of the ground drying out. Very sadly therefore the 2012 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials has been cancelled.”

“Despite the heavy rain over the weekend, swathes of England are still in a state of drought with warnings that the downpours were not enough to counteract the effects of two unusually dry winters.”

Seven water companies have introduced restrictions on water use following one of the driest two-year periods on record, with customers facing a £1,000 fine if they use their hosepipe.

About 20m people will be affected by the restrictions imposed by Thames Water, Southern Water, South East Water, Anglian Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East.