More South East flood warnings ahead of fresh storms

Rough sea generic
Image caption The public was urged to stay away from the south coast as winds of up to 70mph could cause high waves

Six flood warnings are in place for Kent as another bout of heavy rain and strong winds batter the county.

The Met Office has issued a warning for gale-force winds with gusts of up to 70mph and the potential for damage.

Yalding, Ashford, Canterbury, Folkestone and Dover are feared to be at particular risk of flooding.

In East Sussex, the railway line between Battle and Robertsbridge will be closed until March as work to repair damage caused in a landslip continues.

The QE2 Bridge at the Dartford Crossing and the A249 Sheppey Crossing, both in Kent, will shut from about 21:00 GMT due to high winds.

A Highways Agency spokesman said: "The closures will remain in place until high winds ease, which is expected to be around mid-afternoon tomorrow."

Wind and rain which is believed to be behind a landslip that has blocked the railway on the Redhill Line out of London, near the Merstham Tunnel in Surrey, causing severe delays for passengers.

Rail passengers have faced major disruption to their journeys for the past two weeks due to the landslip at Stonegate.

There is also a landslip in the Chelsfield area between Orpington and Sevenoaks, affecting southern-bound trains.

First Capital Connect tweeted that trains between East Croydon and Gatwick Airport may be delayed by up to 30 minutes because of a landslip near Merstham.

There have been 40 landslides across Kent and East Sussex since December, with 10 on the Hastings to Tonbridge line.

Brighton and Hove City Council said residents in Patcham and Portslade should be prepared for possible flooding.

Dangerous waves

Chris Hazleton, the environment manager for Kent, said more flood warnings could be issued.

He said officials would be monitoring the impact of the fresh bout of rain falling on to "already very wet catchments".

"We've got people out in the field making sure that everything's clear, making sure all our structures are operating as we want them to, and an incident control team keeping on top of everything," Mr Hazleton said.

Gordon Wise, of Dover Coastguard, said people should stay away from the coast as the winds would cause very large waves and pose a danger.

"One cubic metre of sea water weighs approximately 10 tonnes - you're looking at many hundreds of cubic metres of water in a wave that is being propelled in at about 30 to 35mph," he said.

"When that hits the sand and the shingle the resultant explosion is equivalent to machine guns going off.

"The pebbles will fly for hundreds and hundreds of yards."

Rural road risk

On the roads, Kent Highways said it would have more crews out over the next 24 hours to help motorists and deal with problems such as fallen trees.

Spokesman Toby Howe said the storm was expected to hit its peak later in the evening, with rural roads most at risk from floods.

By Friday afternoon, flooding was already causing problems on several roads including the A229 at Blue Bell Hill in Chatham and the Tonbridge Road in East Peckham, in Kent, and parts of the A29 and A27 in Sussex.

Southeastern said speed restrictions would be in place on some parts of the rail network from 19:00 GMT because of the forecast bad weather.

It advised passengers to check before they start their journeys in case services are delayed.

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