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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 July 2007, 17:42 GMT 18:42 UK
Hundreds rescued as floods strike
Weir Park mobile home park in Evesham
Caravans have been seen floating down the River Avon in Evesham
More than 750 people stranded in cars, caravans, houses and boats have been rescued from floods in Worcestershire.

The authorities have asked for military help after a night described by Hereford and Worcester Fire Service as its "worst in living memory".

West Mercia Police said thieves had broken into abandoned vehicles in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

About 20 special needs children trapped at Evesham's Vale of Evesham Special School could spend another night there.

More than 1,000 people are expected to spend the night in rest centres in south Worcestershire.

The fire service said it had received more than 2,000 calls in 27 hours, more than 10% of its annual figure.

Droitwich High Street under water - pic by Rags Mahone
Droitwich has also been hit by flooding - pic by Rags Mahone

It is also keeping more than 350 members of staff, including many volunteers, on hand.

West Mercia Police said it dealt with 1,000 emergency 999 calls between 1000 BST on Friday and 1000 BST Saturday, more than three times the average.

A further 2,358 non-emergency calls were taken and 2,229 incidents recorded while, in a 60-minute period from 2245 BST yesterday, 93 emergency calls were taken, six times the average for the same hour on a Friday night.

The authorities coordinating the emergency response in Worcestershire have now asked for military help, in particular the use of helicopters and specialist vehicles to assists with evacuations.

People have been urged not to travel or contact the emergency services unless it is absolutely necessary.

Elsewhere in the county 200 people were stranded at the New Inn at Cropthorn overnight without power or water.

It took in coachloads of people when a road collapsed and then floods cut off the area.

'Bridge battered'

An eyewitness in Evesham watched caravans float down the river and bang into the main bridge.

Store manager Wayne Beal said: "It's a surreal sight. The bridge is actually getting battered by the caravans which are floating up the river.

"Your heart goes out to these people whose caravans are getting smashed to smithereens against the bridge."

About 10,000 vehicles were stranded overnight on the M5 in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.

The M5 later reopened but the M50 remains shut eastbound.

Bromyard flooding
Residents were carried from a caravan park in Bromyard

Fuel is being taken to Strensham Services at junction 8, and the motorway is one of the few routes into Worcester as all River Severn crossings in the area have been closed.

Meanwhile the village of Wolverley has become completely cut off after the River Stour burst its banks.

Evesham is cut off and the bridge has been closed, as has the one in Worcester, Tenbury Wells and Bewdley.

Stourport-on-Severn is also suffering from severe flooding and four boats from the RNLI have travelled up the county.

Justin Owen, a spokesman for RAF Kinloss, in Morayshire, said five helicopters had rescued "in excess of 100 people".

Elsewhere in the county, two people had to be rescued from the River Avon.

Earlier RAF helicopters plucked more than 60 villagers from their rooftops and bedroom windows in Sedgeberrow when the River Isbourne broke its banks.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Aerial shots of flooding and rescues



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