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Flood alert as deluge predicted
Large parts of England and Wales are on flood alert after a month's worth of rain was predicted to fall in just 24 hours.
The deluge is expected to batter the north west of England with heavy rain and high winds lasting until Sunday, experts warn.
A one-day cricket match was cancelled due to the downpours, and hundreds of music fans were forced to sleep in their cars in traffic which became gridlocked as the rain turned the Isle of Wight Festival into a mudbath.
The North East, North West, Wales, and South West were expected to bear the brunt of the adverse weather, with several flood alerts already in place and more predicted.
Forecasters at the Met Office have issued a severe weather warning for parts of Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire, with 2in to 2.4in (50mm-60mm) of rain expected across much of the area. Three flood warnings are currently in place, two in Lancaster and one in High Bentham, North Yorkshire, with 28 alerts in place across the North West.
Environment Agency spokeswoman Kate Marks said: "We would urge the public to remain vigilant and prepared for flooding, especially as river levels can rise very quickly. People can check the Environment Agency website and Twitter feed for the latest updates and flood warnings for rivers."
A number of localised flash floods have already caused problems for householders in Lancashire and Greater Manchester, and the Olympic torch relay was hit by the weather with organisers being forced to cancel an outdoor event in Blackpool. The Environment Agency said it had mobilised teams across the North West to check and operate flood defences, clear any river blockages and closely monitor river levels.
The Environment Agency has 35 flood warnings in place across north-west England and 31 flood alerts.
Flooding has also caused problems to rail services in the north of England, with Northern Rail forced to operate rail replacement bus services between Salford and Wigan and Rochdale and Hebden Bridge. East Coast and Cross Country train services are warning customers of delays of up to two hours on journeys between Edinburgh and North Berwick due to flooding and a landslip at Prestonpans, while ScotRail has suspended all services on the route.
Meanwhile, rivers burst their banks and left a Lancashire town looking like an "island" as residents were evacuated from their homes. Some were taken to a nearby leisure centre as homes in Croston and Darwen, near Chorley, were ravaged by flood water. The three main roads surrounding Croston were flooded, after they were swamped by water.