England floods: Driver dies crossing swollen ford

Ford on Thornford Road, Compton Wood
Image caption The man died after his car became submerged in the flooded ford at Compton Wood

A 52-year-old man has died after his car became submerged at a ford in Hampshire, as heavy rainfall threatened flooding across large parts of England.

The Badminton Horse Trials, in Gloucestershire, have been cancelled for the second time in their history because of a waterlogged course.

More than 1,000 people have been forced to leave their homes at a caravan park near Northampton due to the flood risk.

The Met Office said the past month had been the wettest April in a century.

Tewkesbury, which suffered severe flooding five years ago, is among the areas affected by heavy rain.

'Completely submerged'

In Somerset, the Environment Agency has issued flood alerts for every river.

In Hampshire, the man in the car died after being freed from the stricken vehicle in Compton Wood, south of Newbury, shortly after 09:00 BST.

The Toyota Yaris was trapped at a ford at Headley on Thornford Road.

Paramedics were unable to resuscitate him and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

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Media captionThe BBC's Ben Moore says the car was swept 200m down the river

The man's wife, 54, who was driving, managed to swim free of the car and was taken to hospital in Basingstoke suffering from shock.

Police said the couple are from the Middlesex area.

A dog in the car also died in the incident.

A Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said when the the car had been found it had been "completely submerged under 5ft of fast-flowing water".

The Environment Agency has imposed 37 flood warnings - which mean flooding is expected - across the South West, North East, Midlands and the Anglian area, with 21 in the South West alone.

There are also currently 153 flood alerts - which mean flooding is possible - across the country, with 41 in the South West, 37 in the Midlands, 43 in the South East and 19 in the Anglian region.

'On High Alert'

The agency has confirmed 20 properties across the country have been flooded and unfinished flood defences in Upton-upon-Severn, which were shored up at the weekend, have kept water out of the town.

But an agency spokeswoman said it remained on high alert for flooding into Tuesday across southern England, particularly in Somerset, Dorset and Devon.

"After a very wet weekend conditions have generally improved today, but further rain forecast for tonight means that there is still a risk of flooding across many parts of England and Wales," she said.

The Met Office has confirmed many observation sites across the UK have broken their individual rainfall records.

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Media captionTewkesbury resident: "Tewkesbury has been built since medieval days to cope with the floods"

"The UK has already seen 121.8mm of rain so far - significantly more than the 69.6mm you would normally expect for the month and beating the previous record of 120.3mm set in 2000," a Met Office spokesman said.

"Liscombe in Somerset has seen the most rainfall, with 273.8mm of rain - more than three times the 86.4mm average."

The Badminton Horse Trials had been due to take place between Thursday and Monday.

Event director Hugh Thomas said: "The recent exceptional rainfall has left the ground at Badminton totally waterlogged and partially flooded.

"Further rain is due this week, leaving no chance of the ground drying out.

"Purchasers of advance tickets, exhibitors, sponsors and riders will of course be refunded as soon as is practical."

The event has only been cancelled once before, in 2001, due to foot-and-mouth disease.

In Devon, the Living Coasts wildlife park near Haldon Pier, in Torquay, was closed due to large waves making parts of the site unsafe for visitors.

The Environment Agency set up an incident room in Tewkesbury but said the town had only suffered some localised flooding but "nothing unusual for the area".

Flood incident rooms were also set up elsewhere in the Midlands and South West to ensure the capacity was there to deal with any major incidents.

Image caption April’s heavy rain runs against the long-term trend for southern England

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