Man dies after Newton Abbot dog river rescue bid

River Lemon
Image caption The man went into the river in the town and was retrieved near an industrial estate

A man has died after trying to rescue a dog from a fast-flowing river in Devon.

Witnesses said the man was swept away by the current after he went into the River Lemon, in Newton Abbot, at about 11:15 GMT. The dog was rescued unharmed.

Elsewhere, properties across Devon and Cornwall have been flooded after gale-force winds and persistent rain battered the South West.

Dozens of people have also been rescued from vehicles.

River '7ft higher'

In Newton Abbot, the 46-year-old man entered the water close to the town's Asda store at Bakers Park. He was then pulled out of the river, where it passes the Brunel Industrial Estate.

Devon and Cornwall Police said three officers managed to pull him from the water and attempts were made to resuscitate him until an air ambulance arrived.

Image caption Martin Bignel said the river level had been higher on Monday night

The man was flown to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital where he died from his injuries.

The dog was rescued from the water by members of the public, the fire service said.

Police warned people not to enter fast-flowing water "for any reason".

Local resident Martin Bignel tweeted that the river, which runs at the end of his road, had been "about 7ft higher than usual" on Monday night.

At the height of the severe weather, more than 5,000 homes were without power across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset.

Drivers trapped

The number of customers cut off had been reduced to about 300 by 19:00 on Tuesday, Western Power Distribution said.

Overnight, 200 passengers on board a train from London to Plymouth were stranded for eight hours in Taunton because of the weather.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said it received more than 100 calls between 21:00 and 00:00 on Monday and crews had been called to flooded properties and people trapped in their vehicles.

Tessa Wannell, from the Devon tourist attraction Morwellham Quay, said half the site was under about 3ft (1m) of water.

Insp Andrew Hamilton, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said the fire service had rescued several people trapped in vehicles on the A39.

A number of roads in both counties were closed or blocked because of floodwater or fallen trees.

Image caption Half of the Devon tourist attraction Morwellham Quay is under about 3ft (1m) of water
Image caption Taddiport in Devon was one of the areas affected by flooding
Image caption Many roads across the South West have been flooded
Image caption Inflatable dams that protect the track and signalling have been used at Cowley Bridge, Exeter
Image caption Several trees have been brought down across the South West

First Great Western tweeted: "Flooding between Exeter St Davids & Taunton means all lines are closed."

Services run by South West Trains were affected by almost 30 trees blocking the lines.

The Environment Agency has flood warnings and alerts across the South West.

Devon County Council reminded drivers to take extra care when out over the next few days and said they should not drive through any flood water.

It added that gritters would be out in force treating roads overnight, but warned that, because of the large amount of water and run-off on the roads, it was likely there would be ice on roads early on Christmas Day.

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