Swollen rivers warning for public across England

Swans swim past signs for riverside walks along the River Severn in Worcester
Image caption Heavy rain led to fresh fears of flooding

People have been told to keep away from swollen rivers as dozens of flood warnings remained in place after heavy rain across parts of England.

The Environment Agency (EA) said further downpours could lead to localised flooding.

But a spokesman said there were "no significant concerns" with no major flooding to properties reported.

He said the River Severn was expected to peak in Gloucestershire on Wednesday with no major problems expected.

Flood defence schemes across the country have protected thousands of properties, including 600 homes in Taunton and 25,000 properties along the River Don through Doncaster and Bentley, he said.

Drivers rescued

The river warning came after a school minibus with 14 children and a driver on board was pulled from floodwater in Herefordshire.

Firefighters were called just before 08:30 BST after the minibus became stranded a few hundred yards from Fairfield High School, in Peterchurch.

Kevin Giles, from Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, said: "With the help of a local farmer, we were able to attach a winch to the minibus and pull it safely out of the water."

While the students were then able to get to their school, it had already closed for the day, due to flooding in the area from the River Dore.

Image caption Rivers that were recently dry have been transformed, despite large parts of the country remaining in drought

Crews also rescued two drivers stranded in floodwater.

On Monday a man and his dog drowned while crossing a flooded ford in a car in Hampshire.

In Northamptonshire, about 1,000 people had to leave their homes as heavy rain led to flood warnings for four areas.

And an annual boating festival in Northampton, which had been threatened due to drought fears, has now been postponed because there is too much water.

In Gloucestershire some roads were closed, including one lane of Flaxley Road in Cinderford which was shut after the road collapsed, and a number of minor routes in Tewkesbury which were under water.

And three flood warnings remain for the River Severn in Gloucestershire, affecting the Severn at Deerhurst, Apperley and Ashleworth, the Environment Agency said.

Dave Throup, of the agency, said: "We're expecting levels to go up by eight to 12 inches (20-30 cm) by about this time tomorrow, but that's certainly manageable.

"The rivers have responded very quickly in the Stroud area and with the rain now stopping we don't expect the situation to get any worse."

Hosepipe irony

Many roads had tree debris and standing water but Gloucestershire County Council said highways staff were working hard to keep roads open.

Image caption The River Severn is expected to peak in Gloucestershire on Wednesday

Although the wettest April on record started to restore water levels below ground, the EA said it would take much more time and rain to undo the effects of two dry winters and bring large parts of England out of drought.

Thames Water warned its 8.8 million customers that a hosepipe ban would remain in place.

Richard Aylard, director of sustainability and external affairs for the company, said the firm was aware of the "irony" that heavy rain had set in after the hosepipe ban was announced.

"But it took the two driest years since records began for us to get into this drought and one wet month, even one as wet as April, will not be enough to get us out of it," he added.

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