Huge waves destroy railway line in Dawlish

Parts of Britain were battered by severe weather conditions today as part of a coastal railway line was washed away by huge waves.

Rail services in the south west have been effectively cut off from the rest of the country as a result of the damage in Dawlish.

Thirty residents had to be evacuated from their homes in the seaside town situated between Exeter and Cornwall.

The flood defences were overwhelmed by the huge waves and the 91 mph-strong winds as ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers reports:

Devon and Cornwall Police said the ongoing disruption in the village was a "major incident".

The local Devon County Council set up an emergency rest centre to provide temporary shelter to residents.

Network Rail engineers estimated that it could take up to six weeks to to repair the railway line with many including John Clatworthy, Devon county councillor for Dawlish, calling for fast action.

A huge length of railway track is exposed and left hanging. Credit: PA Wire

"The railway was built in the 1850s and there has been two breaches before now, around 150 years ago. The storm last night was unbelievable. It is not just Dawlish that is affected, this railway line is to Plymouth, the naval bases, Cornwall - it is a lifeline," Mr Clatworthy said.

"Something needs to be done and it is not a five-minute job."

Workmen assess a huge hole exposing ground services and exposed railway track after the sea wall collapsed in Dawlish. Credit: PA Wire

In nearby Torcross, houses were heavily damaged by the strong winds and huge waves.

One resident described how a wave came through the front door, while another in Kingsand described how "massive waves and stones" hit her windows throughout the night.

Houses in Torcross were damaged by the strong winds and huge waves. Credit: ITV News

Approximately 2,300 homes remain without power in the region, while Cornwall Council said fire crews were dealing with flood reports and problems in Polkerris, Fowey and Looe.

Exmouth, Sidmouth and Seaton seafronts were closed, and the high tides flooded properties in Exmouth, Lympstone, Starcross and Topsham.

Read: Lifeboat service urges public to take extra care

Huge waves break over the railway in Dawlish, causing damage. Credit: PA Wire

On the Somerset Levels, which has been heavily affected by the flooding since Christmas, police used a helicopter to advise residents in Northmoor, Saltmoor and Fordgate to evacuate their homes because of the risk of flooding.

Watch:Prince Charles speaks of Somerset flooding 'tragedy'

Winds reaching 91 mph battered the south coast. Credit: ITV News

The Environment Agency has warned that the south west could face further flooding, with more rain and heavy winds likely in the coming days.

Meanwhile, David Cameron announced that £100 million would be made available to fund essential flood repairs and maintenance over the next year, as he insisted everything possible was being done to get "stricken" communities moving again.

Read: Seals suffer broken jaws after being battered by waves