London: Two people were dead and hundreds were stranded as torrential downpours caused widespread chaos and the worst floods seen in northern England in years.
Several hours of effort from rescuers including police divers was not enough to save a 28-year-old man in Hull, northwest England, who died after being trapped while trying to clear a flooded drain.
Local police in nearby Sheffield said they had recovered the body of an unidentified young man, though his body was found downstream from where a teenage boy was earlier reported to have been swept up by the floods.
Hundreds of people were stranded in Sheffield, where military and police helicopters were scrambled to help rescue people trapped in cars or taking refuge from the fast-rising floodwaters on rooftops.
“It’s very difficult to get an actual understanding of how many people, but we are talking in the hundreds of people affected by this sea of flooding,” said emergency coordinator Flight Lieutenant Ronnie Metcalfe.
Metcalfe, speaking from a Royal Air Force base in Scotland, added that the number of people in bad trouble was continuing to rise through the evening as reports came in of thousands of people being without power.
Britain’s Environment Agency, which monitors weather risks nationwide, issued 16 severe flood warnings and 102 standard flood warnings throughout the country.
Elsewhere in Britain, rivers broke their banks, flooding roads and homes from Devon in southwest England, to Yorkshire in the north.
Nick Ricketts, a national forecaster at Britain’s Meteorological Office, said that the forecasting centre now thinks “the worst of the rainfall is over.”
He added that some parts of Britain had an entire month’s worth of rain in just a few hours.
The British Chamber of Commerce said the floods could cost the economy millions of pounds, as workers would likely turn up late at work in the coming days, if they managed to make it at all, due to disruptions on transport networks.