‘Danger to life’ flood warnings issued as hundreds evacuated from homes

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Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes as waters rise and two "danger to life" weather warnings have been issued as Storm Christoph batters the country.

Up to 3,000 properties in Greater Manchester could be affected by flooding, police have warned, and two severe flood warnings are in place in East Didsbury, West Didsbury and Northenden, along the River Mersey.

Greater Manchester Police said about 160 people will be advised to leave their homes and move into temporary accommodation on Wednesday evening.

It comes as heavy rain continues to fall across England, with many rivers at "dangerously high levels", the Environment Agency said.

Amber and yellow weather warnings are in force until Thursday for the storm, which is also threatening to bring up to 30cm of snow to northern areas.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier urged people to heed the flood warnings and evacuate their properties when told to do so.

It comes 24 hours after a major incident was declared in Manchester following the outbreak of Storm Christoph.

Speaking on Wednesday, Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Nick Bailey said: "Unfortunately – despite the best efforts of all agencies involved – we are now at the stage where evacuations are necessary in areas of Didsbury.

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"We will be directly in touch with residents in those properties that have been identified as potentially being at risk and we have an evacuation plan in place to set up those who have been displaced in temporary accommodation.

"I think it's important to stress that if you are contacted and advised to evacuate then we would strongly urge you to do so."

Downing Street has said Covid-secure facilities will be available for any people forced to evacuate as a result of the weather.

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Mr Johnson said steps were being taken to ensure the transport and energy networks were prepared so that electricity outages would not be "severe" and that there were sufficient supplies of sandbags.

He told reporters: "There are some times where I have been to scenes where, alas, people have decided not to obey the advice and not evacuated.

"It is their right not to do so if they choose – it's always people's right to stay wherever they are.

"But it really is advisable – follow the advice. If you are told to leave your home then you should do so."

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It comes as Mr Johnson chaired a Cobra crisis meeting on Wednesday after major incidents were declared in Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire and Cheshire.

More than 120mm of rain has already fallen in parts of the country, with 123.42mm at Capel Curig in North Wales in the 24 hours up to 2pm on Wednesday.

Crai Reservoir in South Wales saw the second highest total, with 115.6mm, and areas in Glamorgan and Cumbria also topped 100mm over the same period.

The Environment Agency has issued a further 113 flood warnings across England, with 218 less severe flood alerts, mainly across the Midlands and north of the country.

Almost the whole of England, Wales and Northern Ireland are subject to yellow weather warnings for rain until midday on Thursday, with a more serious amber warning stretching from the East Midlands to the Lake District.

The amber alert warns of the risk of flooding and deep floodwaters which could pose a risk to life, and there are further warnings for snow and ice in Scotland.

An amber warning for snow in parts of southern Scotland warned around 30cm could fall in areas above 400m, with up to 10cm likely to accumulate in lower regions until 8am on Thursday.

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