M25 traffic hell as sinkholes shut motorway after month of rain falls in one day

The discovery of the sinkholes caused the motorway section between junctions 4 and 5 to close at midnight only to reopen again to traffic at around 7am.

Two separate sections of the busy motorway between junctions 3 near Swanley and junction 4 near Orpington were closed to traffic.

There is currently slow moving traffic between junctions 8 and 9, and 10 and 11 following to separate crashes.

Another section between junction 3 near Swanley and junction 4 near Orpington was shut to traffic at around 8am due to a “police incident”.

Kent Police was called to the scene after reports of a distressed man on a footbridge above the motorway near Swanley.

He was later arrested after a short pursuit on the nearby M2.

Highways England said the closure was lifted at 9.30am but has resulted in long delays of up to an hour for frustrated motorists.

The disruption has caused lengthy tailbacks all the way to junction 2 on the Darenth Interchange.

“There is considerable congestion in the area and drivers may wish to consider alternative routes,” it said.

Last night, the Met Office issued a ‘danger to life’ amber weather warning as a month’s worth of rain fell in one day in some parts of the country.

Kent Police urged people to avoid travelling unless absolutely necessary due to severe flooding.

North-eastern parts of England and the Midlands are expected to bear the brunt of the downpours on Tuesday, with a yellow warning in place until midnight.

Some areas set to see up to 60mm of rain, particularly over the first half of the day, according to the Met Office.

Another warning covers Devon and Somerset, where similar conditions are expected.

The Environment Agency has issued three flood warnings in south-east England, for the River Wandle at Morden, south London, the Emm Brook at Wokingham and Ravensbourne at Bromley.

The agency said on its website: “River levels have risen as a result of localised thunderstorms.

“Flooding of property is expected imminently. Please take action.”

A total of 31 flood alerts – which mean flooding is possible – are in place across the country.

On Wednesday and Thursday, some parts of the UK could be struck by 60mm to 80mm of rain, and possibly even up to 100mm.

Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill described the figures as the “worst-case scenarios” but added that people need “to be aware that we’re in for some treacherous weather”.

“If you add it all up some places are likely to see over 100mm this week, which is around double the average they would get in the whole of June,” he said.

Residents are being told to avoid low-lying footpaths near local watercourses and plan driving routes to avoid low-lying roads near rivers which may be flooded.

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