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2004: Dozens stranded in Cornish floods

Flash floods have devastated a north Cornwall coastal village after the area's average August rainfall fell in just two hours.

Heavy storms caused 77mm (3in) of rain to fall in Boscastle and a major operation is now underway to rescue those trapped by the floods.

Seven helicopters were scrambled to winch to safety dozens of people stranded on roof tops and in cars.

The deluge has also swept an estimated 50 cars into the sea and caused several buildings to collapse. Rescue workers have described the situation as "horrendous".


" It has been torrential - really, really heavy rain and storms with water running down the village "

Margaret Hunter

RAF Kinloss spokesman Michael Mulford said the incident was the biggest the service had been involved in for many years.

He told reporters: "It is very seldom we have more than two helicopters at one scene. To get seven is remarkable."

And he added that up to 1,000 more people may have to be airlifted out of Boscastle.

So far 60 villagers and visitors have been rescued from the popular resort and have been taken to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro to be treated for minor injuries and shock.

The owner of Boscastle's Tintagel Arms Hotel, Margaret Hunter, said she had been "amazed" at the volume of rain.

"It has been torrential - really, really heavy rain and storms with water running down the village," she said.

Ben Wassell, from Kent, told the BBC News website his brother and his wife had been staying in a holiday cottage in Boscastle and had only just escaped before the flood water rose to high.

"All their possessions were washed away, but they are both fine," he said.

Police confirmed that three people earlier classified as missing had now been found, but said it was not easy to establish if any more were unaccounted for.

Superintendent Jon Wotton from Devon and Cornwall police said the rescue operation would continue into the night.

In Context
Millions of pounds of damage was caused by the flash flood on 16 August.

It was estimated that two million tonnes (440m gallons) of water rushed through the village, causing extensive damage to property and vehicles.

However, no one was killed or seriously injured during the floods.

A new 800,000 flood defence system was completed eight months later.

Most of the business affected by the torrential rain have now reopened, but other regeneration work is ongoing. In January 2006, the village was granted 1.5m grant for a regeneration project, to rebuild some properties lost in the flood and provide other improvements.

The Boscastle flood came 52 years to the day after floods in Lynmouth, Devon, swept 34 people to their deaths.

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