Bristol burst main leaves thousands without water

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Media captionThe 30in (76cm) wide main ruptured in Kingswood on Thursday afternoon

Thousands of people continue to be left without water and have queued at bowsers for supplies after a main burst near Bristol.

The 30in (76cm) wide main ruptured in Kingswood on Thursday afternoon, affecting 8,000 homes and forcing 18 schools to close on Friday.

Bristol Water has bowsers in position in a number of locations around the area for customers to collect water.

The firm hopes water will be restored by Saturday lunchtime.

It said it has now removed the damaged part of the main, and was in the process of installing a replacement.

Bottled water is being handed out by the Red Cross and people have been asked to contact the water company for deliveries if they are in desperate need.

Conservative MP for Kingswood, Chris Skidmore said the Floods Minister Dan Rogerson has told Bristol Water that the company's response to the burst water main has not been acceptable.

He said: "He has told them directly that their response time has not been good enough, in particular with supplying Kingswood residents with water.

"Expect there to be some sort of enquiry into what has happened here."

Earlier on Friday, BBC reporter Pete Simson said some had been waiting for water at bowsers for more than an hour in Kingswood, and supplies in local shops had run dry.

Resident Sharon Kitchen said: "The fact that everybody has a place to come to get water is amazing and I'm glad I'm not in Africa and have to go miles and miles by foot to pick up some water."

'Boats rescuing people'

On Thursday, 19 people were rescued by dinghy. They spent the night in a church hall but have now returned home.

James Hodges, another resident, said: "It was a shock to find a great big hole in the road when I came home last night.

Image caption Fire crews used a dinghy to rescue people from their homes after the large water main burst in Kingswood
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Image caption Long queues have formed for water at bowsers installed in Kingswood following the incident
Image caption Some residents had to be helped from their homes

"Luckily the water only came up to my wall, it saved my house from getting flooded but I know my neighbour's whole garden has been totally destroyed."

Most of the people who were evacuated have returned home and a clean-up operation is under way.

BBC reporter Andrew Plant, at the scene

The hole in the road is huge. Workmen are standing in it and are only visible from the chest up, and it stretches 10m from end to end.

In it you can make out several pipes, and see a puddle of water at the bottom that gets disturbed every time the bucket of the mechanical digger scrapes in and pulls out more earth.

The residents are watching from behind temporary metal fences; a lorry full of water is manned by two men in yellow jackets, pulling off six-packs of water bottles and handing them to a steady flow of residents, who stagger off under the weight.

It all looks like a natural disaster and many have missed work or school today, unable to shower this morning.

Red Cross volunteer Adam McGreevy helped people with the rescue operation on Thursday evening.

He said: "To see boats rescuing people from their houses on the streets of Bristol is something you don't expect to see every day."

Avon Fire and Rescue said 19 people and six dogs were rescued by an inflatable dinghy.

Image caption A big hole has appeared on Fisher Road in Kingswood due to the burst water main

Bristol Water said Wales and West Utilities had made a damaged gas main, alongside the burst water main, safe and repair work had now started.

Areas that have been affected include Kingswood, Pucklechurch, Mangotsfield, Oldland Common, Longwell Green, Barrs Court, Keynsham, Stockwood and Whitchurch.

A total of 18 schools have been closed across the area, including: Kingswood Forest Primary; Kings Oak Academy; Sir Bernard Lovell School; Grange School, Warmley; Beacon Rise Primary; Chester Park Infants School and Chester Park Junior School in Fishponds.

Image caption A gas main needed checking before the mains repair work could start as it was affected in the flood

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