Danger warnings issued as storms and high tides batter Britain

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 January, 2014, 5:36am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 January, 2014, 7:13am


High tides and strong winds have caused flooding in Britain, with authorities warning sightseers seeking to witness the huge waves that they were putting their lives at risk.

Severe flood warnings - indicating there is "danger to life" - were declared on Friday for the southwest English counties of Gloucestershire and Dorset, and for Wales.

The Northern Irish capital Belfast avoided the serious flooding that residents had feared after a tidal surge failed to breach flood defences. Walls of sandbanks were built in the densely-packed residential area of Sydenham in the east of the city and on land around the docks on the opposite side of the shore.

In the southwest English counties, coastal towns in Cornwall and Devon experienced some flooding but officials said it was not as bad as they had feared.

As high waves crashed against coastal areas, authorities and emergency services warned that people heading to the coast to see the dramatic conditions were dicing with death. Police were called to move on dozens of sightseers who gathered at Burry Port in south Wales to see the sea whipped up by 112 km/h winds at high tide.

"What they cannot know is what is in these waves. The sea takes up a lot of rock, rubble and stones and throws them violently about," Carmarthenshire County Council spokesman Ron Cant said.

"Stones weighing up to one hundredweight [50 kilogrammes] were being flung into the car park and people were literally putting their lives at risk by being there."