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1:53pm 22nd March 2013
(Updated 1:53pm 22nd March 2013)

A woman in her sixties is unaccounted for after the floods triggered the collapse of flats in Looe.

Sniffer dogs have been sent into Sandplace Road to search for Susan Norman.

Now rescue crews have been given permission to go into the building after work to shore it up.

It is understood she arrived home from a holiday yesterday evening. Her next of kin have been told.

A landslip hit the back of the building, which has been converted into apartments.

Police and fire and rescue crews are at the scene.  Around 15 people have been evacuated from this property and the adjacent properties. The people were initially taken to the police station but have now left to stay with friends and relatives.

Pirate FM's Emma Carton is on the scene. She said: "It simply looks to have crumbled away, taking the front of the house with it - which is now almost unrecognisable as a home. You can see beams, wall insulation and the window pane, forced out by the force of the slip."

Speaking about the search for Mrs Norman, Inspector Graham Clayborne told Pirate FM: "She was away but she returned to her home property last night about six o'clock in the evening. We have no other suggestions about where she could be.

"If you work to the worst case scenario - because it's all about preserving life and protecting life - so, if we think she's in there, we're doing our best to make the premises secure and safe for us to explore a bit more."

Cheryl is on holiday nearby. She said: "We've been coming down for twenty years and not seen anything like this in the years we've been down here. But the amount of rain and the steepness of the valley, it's almost like an accident waiting to happen."

Cornwall council engineers are on the scene. In a statement, Countie Hall said: "This is a very tragic incident and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the missing woman. The Council is working with the emergency services and the Health and Safety Executive to carry out a thorough investigation into the cause of the landslip."

collapse

The Looe branch line has been shut as a precaution and specialist officers from the council’s building control service and engineers are on the scene to assess the stability of the property and the surrounding land.

A spokesperson for Cornwall Fire and Rescue said: "Crews from Looe, Bodmin, Lostwithiel and the Command Support Unit from Launceston are in attendance dealing with a domestic property that has collapsed due to a land slide. Emergency Management are dealing with residents that are being evacuated."

Torrents of water have rampaged through Newlyn, while other roads have been blocked and homes and businesses have rushed to protect themselves with sandbags.

There are flood warnings out for the rivers Cober, Tresillian and Bolingey, after parts of the Duchy were battered by 47mm of rain in just twenty-four hours. That compares to 52mm during November's floods.

Firecrews say they have been scrambled to fifty call outs in just three hours.floods 2

At one point seventy firefighters were on jobs, including pumping water off roads at St Mawes, Porthleven, Camborne, Penzance and Newlyn.

Viv has got a chippy in Newlyn. She said: "We could see the water licking over the brow of the river bank and we knew it would flood again. We shut everything down and prepared by putting sandbags out and waited for the water to come - which it has in abundance."

Adam lives nearby. He said: "The water rose up, went into the shops and affected about ten businesses in the town I think. One of them was due to reopen and he's just been flooded out again, so it's quite bad for those guys."

Pirate FM's been broadcasting overnight - Tom from Mousehole heard some locals appealing for sandbags and rode to the rescue: "There's a good, strong community feel down here. You get a lot of people coming out to support those that are in need in situations like this in times of trouble. It's something Cornwall's done through and through for me for twenty years. You can trust in your next door neighbours to pull together and help you when it's like this."

Rivers in Par, Fowey, Seaton and Hayle are being closely monitored. There are a string of flood alerts still in place. You can find the latest updates here.

A forecaster for the Met Office said: "40 to 60mm is expected to fall widely over southern parts of both Cornwall and Devon by the end of Friday with the potential for in excess of 100mm to fall over exposed southern and southeastern upslopes.

"Southeasterly winds will also increase to reach gale force around exposed coasts and also over high ground."

 

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