Sinkholes close motorway as floods cause travel chaos for millions

SINKHOLES closed the M25 as relentless thunderstorms and flash floods sparked weather warnings and travel chaos for millions across England today.

Cars and rail tracks were submerged after more than a month’s rain fell in just 24 hours in parts of Kent and East Sussex.

Two sinkholes also forced parts of the M25 to close overnight.

And there’s no sign the downpours will stop any time soon – with Met Office yellow weather warnings in place until Thursday at the earliest.

Many parts of southern England have been completely submerged after heavy thunderstorms rolled in on Monday.

Kent and East Sussex have seen the worst of the intense rainfall – but deluges have also affected parts of the South West, South Wales and East Anglia.

Thousands of families in the West Country were put on sandbag alert this morning after last night’s torrential rain – with 37 flood alerts and three flood warnings in place across the country.

More than 80 homes were blacked out by power cuts this morning in St Austell, Cornwall, and Torquay, Devon.

Meanwhile, a home was destroyed in Dartmoor when a lightning strike hit its thatched roof about 11pm last night.

Police in Kent warned that drivers taking to the roads today should remain vigilant and strictly follow signs advising them to slow down.

And they said that parts of the busy M20 motorway had vanished under standing water.

The force tweeted: “The M20 Junction 1-2 where river has burst its banks and now flooding all three lanes of carriageway.

“Amazingly drivers are ignoring warning advising them to slow down!”

Meanwhile in Norfolk, a woman escaped serious injury after her car skidded and plunged off the A1122 in the rain.

Police arrived to find just the roof of the car visible above the water but the woman – who was alone in the vehicle – was alive.

The combination of rain and thunderstorms earlier led the Met Office to issue amber warnings for most of the South East – stretching from Oxford to the Kent coast.

It warned homes and businesses are “likely to be flooded” and “fast-flowing floodwater is possible – causing danger to life”.

These warnings have since been downgraded to less severe – but still impactful – yellow alerts covering the South West, Eastern and Central England.

Elsewhere, London’s North Circular Road was flooded between Charlie Brown’s roundabout and Waterworks Corner.

Kingston Bridge was closed due to flooding on the underpass and while it was reopened last night congestion in the area was causing traffic to move slowly.