Source AP ©

Rainstorms envelop Britain

A young man trying to help his grandfather battle rising floodwaters died Monday trapped in a storm drain in eastern England.

The man, whose name was not released, died in a residential area in Hull, about 190 miles (300 kilometers) north of London.

The man had been helping clear the drain when he slipped, catching his foot in metal grating, said Glenn Ramsden of the Humberside Fire and Rescue Service. Although rescue crews battled to save him for hours, they did not manage to reach him in time.

Ramsden said the rescue attempt had been an "absolutely desperate operation."

Rainstorms were expected to dump as much as three inches (75 millimeters) of rain on a country already soggy from an exceptionally wet June, Britain's weather office said. At one point on Monday afternoon, the country's Environment Agency had issued 38 flood warnings.

Royal Air Force helicopters were scrambled to help people trapped in their cars, and in northern England, to rescue people trapped on a roof.

In Sheffield, northern England, flooding left hundreds of people stranded in factories and offices in the Brightside Lane area of the city.

"We just can't get out because of the amount of water," said Greg Wood, a Royal Mail worker. He said there were about 200 people in the building's cafeteria.

"There's several feet of water. It's contaminated with sewage and everything. We can't wade through it because it's not safe. We're going to stay here until we're told to do otherwise."

Weekend rain had already turned the Glastonbury Music Festival - one of the world's largest green-field music festivals - into a sea of mud. On Monday, police handed out blankets to music fans waiting for buses to take them home from the festival, and tractors were enlisted to tow cars out of the water-logged fields.

The start of the Wimbledon tennis tournament Monday was pushed back hours after rain spilled into the roofless center court, and play was temporarily suspended later in the afternoon.

The rural west of England was hit hard. In Cheltenham, 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of London, the center of town was flooded and the local sports center was closed after a lake burst its banks and flooded nearby sporting fields.

"The lake near the center just overfilled and all the excess water swept into our outdoor sports pitches," a spokesman said. "The cricket hall looked like it was under a foot of water this morning."

In nearby Gloucester, the fire department rescued 50 dogs and 20 cats who were stranded in kennels. Fire crews in Tewkesbury, 10 miles (16 kilometers) north, had to rescue 40 sheep stuck in a river.

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