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Anxious wait at collapsing UK dam after more rain

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Emergency services worked into the night on Sunday at a reservoir in central England that threatens to flood an entire town, following further heavy rain.

[WHALEY BRIDGE, United Kingdom] Emergency services worked into the night on Sunday at a reservoir in central England that threatens to flood an entire town, following further heavy rain.

More than 1,500 people have been evacuated from the Derbyshire town of Whaley Bridge after part of the dam wall holding back the Toddbrook Reservoir collapsed on Thursday following downpours.

Crews have been working around the clock to pump water out of the reservoir, with the level reduced by over four metres by Sunday, according to the Canal and River Trust, which owns the reservoir.

"We have planned ahead of time to ensure we have sufficient pumps working through the night to mitigate against the expected rainfall," the trust said, adding that the reservoir was only at 55 per cent capacity.

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A military Chinook helicopter has meanwhile also dropped 530 tonnes of aggregate to shore up the damaged part of the dam, and it is now being cemented into place.

"The levels of the reservoir are being monitored closely, including the impact that this is having on the wall and the surrounding infrastructure," Derbyshire police said in a statement.

Police said once a stable level was reached to allow engineers to assess damage to the wall, authorities would decide whether residents and businesses could return to Whaley Bridge.

Residents were allowed back on Saturday to collect any essential items, but this was stopped on Sunday.

"The current situation at the reservoir is still critical and the threat to life remains very high," said deputy police chief Rachel Swann.

If the dam fails, emergency services vehicles will sound their horns three times while a loud hailer will also blast out across the town - where some families have decided to stay put.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the area on Friday, where he said the 180-year-old dam would require a "major rebuild".

AFP