Sunderland and Durham crippled by torrential downpour

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COMMUTERS faced nightmare journeys home and families are in fear of flooding as heavy rain crippled Sunderland and Durham.

Metros were brought to a standstill, train journeys cut short and roads flooded as storms struck the North East.

Metro services are still suspended due to flooding and police are urging motorists to take particular care as the region recovers from the chaotic downpour.

The Tyne Tunnel has been closed in both directions and drivers face delays on many of the region’s roads.

Trains from Edinburgh travelling south are terminating at Berwick. Passengers wishing to travel south are leaving the train and are waiting for buses to take them further south.

Trains travelling from Birtley and Low Fell are travelling at 5mph with severe delays.

Most Metro trains are stopped at stations. The advice is passengers use normal bus services.

A statement released by Tyne and Wear transport executive Nexus said: “Metro is completely suspended as a result of flooding and debris on lines in several parts of the system.

“Tickets are being accepted on all local buses, but these are subject to severe delays due to road conditions. Only travel if your journey is absolutely necessary. We apologise for the inconveinence caused.”

A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “Drivers are advised to take extra care when travelling, reduce their speed and exercise caution on the roads that are affected.

“Motorists are also asked to allow extra distance between themselves and other vehicles and ensure they use their lights if visibility is an issue.”

The region was not alone in suffering at the hands of the storm.

One man died, roads and rail lines were blocked and properties flooded as torrential downpours caused flash floods across parts of the UK.

The man was swept away by floodwater in a stream at Bittlerley, near Ludlow, Shropshire, this morning.

Residents named him as maths teacher Mike Ellis, who lived in the village with his wife.

Swathes of the Midlands were hit by intense downpours, with some areas receiving almost an inch (22mm) of rain in just an hour - a third of the average rainfall for the whole month of June.

Forecasters from Meteogroup, the weather forecasting arm of the Press Association, said England and Wales north of a line from the Bristol Channel to the Wash had been hit by severe weather.

Stephen Davenport, forecast manager for Meteogroup, said: “There was torrential rain and flooding, frequent lightning and lengthy thunderstorms, huge hailstones, some in excess of 7cm in diameter, and reports of damage from squalls and tornadoes.

“So large were some of the hailstones that cars were dented and greenhouses smashed.”

Around 70 properties have been hit by flooding, according to the Environment Agency.

People have been urged to be on alert for more flash flooding across the Midlands and northern England as the Met Office forecasts outbreaks of torrential rain across many central and northern parts of the country.

There is a continued risk of surface water flooding this afternoon and into the evening if drainage systems are overwhelmed by rainfall.

And rivers swollen with water and debris could cause more floods, the Environment Agency said, warning people to stay away from rivers and not to drive through flood waters.

A 90-year-old man was among a number of people rescued from vehicles by fire crews as heavy rain caused flash flooding in the Bridgnorth area of Shropshire.

The man was checked over by paramedics but was unhurt after floodwater rose three feet around his car on the A454 at Worfield.Northern Ireland and the Irish republic have also been hit by floods, with forecasters warning of more heavy rain on the way.

At the height of disruption, more than 10,000 homes in the Cork area and 1,000 in Northern Ireland suffered blackouts.