Royal Marines start their rescue of stranded Calstock cars

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Media captionAbout 40 vehicles were stranded after a road collapse caused by a landslip

A 10-year-old boy has called in the Royal Marines to rescue cars stranded in a Cornish village.

About 40 vehicles were trapped after a road collapse caused by a landslip on Lower Kelly, Calstock, on Christmas Day.

Charlie Southcott suggested bringing in the marines after meeting a senior officer at a carol service.

The marines moved the cars on to a landing craft and they were taken by river to Cotehele Quay.

Image caption Charlie met Cmdr Little at a carol concert

The landslip closed a 20m (65ft) section of the road to local businesses and about 30 homes.

Local councillor Dorothy Kirk said without "Charlie to the rescue", residents' cars may have been stranded "for months".

Commodore Graeme Little, the commanding officer of Devonport Naval Base, gave Charlie his business card, which he in turn gave to Ms Kirk.

"I disturbed Cmdr Little on his Boxing Day walk on Dartmoor and said 'please can you help us' and he said he thought his chaps could," the councillor told BBC News.

Before permission for the rescue operation was granted, it was discussed "at the highest level" - at a Cobra (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A) meeting being held to discuss the exceptional flooding situation across the UK.

"I doubt very much whether Cobra had heard of Calstock before," Ms Kirk said.

Charlie, who attends Calstock Community Primary School, said he thought it was "awesome" the marines were helping, adding that perhaps he was seen as a bit of a hero by Cornwall Council.

Image caption The landslip on Christmas day has closed the road to local businesses and residents

The two-day rescue operation is being carried out by members of 1 Assault Group Royal Marines.

"We train to do this all around the world - but not usually on our own back door," the group's commanding officer, Col Garth Manger, said.

"It's one of the things the Royal Navy is really good at - disaster relief - but normally after hurricanes, not after landslips."

The marines are driving the cars off the slipway at Calstock - built for the US military in 1943 - one at a time on to a special landing craft.

They will then be taken a few miles down the river to Cotehele Quay..

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