Somerset flooding: Man dies as car trapped in floods

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Media captionThe man was trapped in his car

A man died after his vehicle became submerged in flood water following torrential rain in Somerset.

He was released from his car by a fire and rescue crew called to Chew Stoke on Thursday evening, but was pronounced dead on the way to hospital.

Stormy weather caused travel disruption across Somerset and Bristol, with roads blocked by floods, rubble, fallen trees and power cables.

Trains between Taunton and Exeter are still cancelled because of flooding.

Police said they were trying to identify the man who died.

Emergency services received a call just before 21:00 GMT to say a car was wedged under a bridge near a ford at Rectory Fields, in Chew Stoke.

The vehicle remains at the scene while police wait for the water level to drop.

BBC Radio Bristol's Nigel Dando, who was at the scene, said the road was next to the ford in Winford Brook.

Residents have told him that the area is susceptible to flooding and that the water on Thursday rose to about 4ft (more than 1m) deep.

He added that the torrent was so strong, parts of the road had been ripped up.

Duncan Massey, who was part of the Avon and Somerset Search and Rescue team that was called to the rescue effort, said it had been difficult trying to find him.

"We knew where the car was in the water but we couldn't access it. He was out of the vehicle, but we never actually found the car.

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Media captionVehicles struggled to get through the water in Taunton

"It was dark, flooded and the car had been swept away, we were just desperately trying to find where this person was.

"The fire and rescue service were here with boats and waders and swimming people just trying to find where he was and rescue him as best we could."

Cynthia Troup, who has lived in the village for 38 years, said she believed the man was not local to the village but had been visiting a relative.

She added that local residents do not tend to drive through the ford after heavy rain.

"All the water is just pouring off the hills and surging here. It's an absolutely surging torrent," she said.

Chew Stoke resident David Smith, 76, said a Land Rover had been stuck in the same area 24 hours previously.

"Fortunately, his vehicle was caught by one of the bollards on the road and he was able to climb out of the window on to the roof," he said.

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Media captionAerial footage shows the damage caused to parts of Bath
Image caption Keynsham Town Football Club was deluged with water

Avon Fire and Rescue Service said it had received 150 calls overnight, half of which were about fallen trees.

Kelvin Packer, the highways manager at Bath and North East Somerset council, said it had been "a battle" to keep the roads open.

He added that the council was expecting all main roads in the Bath area to be passable on Friday but drivers were being asked to avoid roads in Chew Valley as flooding levels were high there.

Robbie Williams, from the Environment Agency, said the rain was not as bad as it might have been and that Wednesday was worst.

He said the agency was working to clear areas so that water could drain off however it had fallen at a rate which was quicker than it could deal with.

BBC Weather said Saturday would see further persistent and heavy rain across the South West with up to 30mm (1in) falling.

Although the rain is expected to clear early on Sunday morning, significant flooding is anticipated, it added.

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