RAF and a damaged dam

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Media captionAn RAF Chinook is dropping 400 tonnes of aggregate to shore up the and divert

crews are racing to save a damaged reservoir, as “terrified” residents fear their Derbyshire town could be flooded.

say the wall holding back the 300-million-gallon could still despite about 24 hours of efforts to shore it up.

Part of the dam wall collapsed on Thursday afternoon.

The 1,500 people evacuated from Whaley Bridge amid “mortal ” warnings not be allowed home tonight.

But the water level has dropped by half a meter thanks to ten service pumps 4.2 million litres of water every hour – with more pumps on the way.

An RAF helicopter is also halfway through dropping 400 tonnes of aggregate on the collapsed section.

How dangerous is it?

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Image caption The under the slipway has been undermined

Police, the , and the Canal and River Trust have said is a “real risk” the dam could collapse.

Julie Sharman, from the Canal and Trust, said it was “a critical situation” but added the had improved and the water levels had reduced by 20cm.

“We aren’t putting a figure on any risk of collapse but everything that can be done is being done,” she said.

Engineers are attempting to get the reservoir’s water level down, to reduce pressure on the wall and allow repairs to begin.

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Image caption The dam holds back 1.3 million tonnes of water

What does it mean for residents?

About 1,500 left their homes after police told them to up their and and gather at an evacuation point.

Some stayed with relatives while others bedded down in pubs and hotels, with lots of businesses offering free rooms.

Police said residents would not be allowed back on Friday so would spend a second night away from their homes.

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Image caption Bev Goodwin has put up and after they left Whaley Bridge

Bev Goodwin lives in Chapel-en-le-Frith and put up her and , Joy and and two friends – Susie and .

Joy said: “We have nothing. No clothes, no toothbrush, nothing.

“We have been thinking about what’s in our house that we would miss – all our kids’ pictures and of our grandchildren – it’s upsetting.”

Susie said: “It’s just that it’s happening in our town, it’s just bizarre.”

Mike Breslin described it as a “crazy situation”.

“They should never have built a and a club at the bottom of a dam. It’s madness,” he said.

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Image caption Resident Mike Breslin said it was ‘madness’ to build a school at the base of the dam

Eric Baker, who has lived in the town for 30 years said: “It’s shocking really, it’s like living to a ticking bomb. If that goes the devastation will be unimaginable.

“We saw the water coming over at a tremendous rate on Wednesday and the park was flooded but it wasn’t until Thursday the people who after it started to worried.

“Then it started to collapse on Thursday and it made a tremendous noise as the concrete slabs began to collapse.

“The disruption is , the small shops and businesses are really being hit and of course we don’t know when it will be over.”

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Image caption agencies and the army have been praised for their efforts

Another resident, who did not want to be named, said: “We just fled. I managed to take my nightdress and we’ve got the in the washing up bowl in the .

“It’s quite terrifying. If the dam goes, it will take out the whole town.”

When will it be fixed?

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Image caption Teams have worked through the night

Nigel Carson, who lives near the dam, said he had been told it would take two or three days to reduce the reservoir to a level if it does not .

There are no weather warnings in place for Friday, and the has said it expects much drier conditions.

BBC Richard Stead described the operation to the dam as “a two-pronged attack”.

He said: “The Chinook is bringing aggregate on the one hand to shore up the dam, but also to divert water further up the valley away from the reservoir.

“There are also 16 high-volume pumps being used to relieve the pressure on the dam.

“Only when that is done can start on permanent repairs and finding out what went wrong.”

has asked the Theresa Villiers to an emergency meeting.

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Ms Villiers said she was receiving regular updates on the situation and the government’s COBR committee would make sure everything possible was being done to help.

People have shared their admiration for the on social media, with Twitter user @nmstoker naming the chinook pilots #DamUnbusters.

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Analysis

By Shukman, BBC

This isn’t the first communities have faced the nightmare of a dam that could collapse.

Back in 2007 a dam near Rotherham was the cause of a alert, and the scenario is very similar to . Torrential rain had filled the to overflowing.

Cracks appeared in the dam itself. People downstream were told to leave. The M1 motorway was in the path of a potential burst so part of it was closed.

As with the dam at Whaley Bridge, the one at Ulley was built in the 19th Century with the same combination of clay and mud.

In the end, pumps relieved the pressure and nearly 3000 tonnes of rock strengthened the structure so the emergency passed.

But over the following three years a huge repair operation costing £3.8m was needed. And a major of the 2007 floods was highly critical of the way many of ’s are monitored.

Whatever happens at Whaley Bridge, questions will be asked about safety and whether can cope with the heavier downpours predicted as the warms.

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What happened?

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Media captionToddbrook Reservoir: Footage shows fast-flowing water before collapse

Part of the reservoir’s spillway broke away on Thursday.

It was damaged after large swathes of the country were battered by heavy rain and floods in the week.

Police told residents in Whaley Bridge to gather at Chapel in neighbouring Chapel-en-le-Frith.

They were told to take pets and medication with them as it was unclear how it would take to repair the damaged wall.

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Pumps from across the country have been pumping out 7,000 litres of water a minute.

Army engineers are clearing trees and bushes to get “five or six” more water pumps in on south of reservoir.

Derbyshire Fire & said more than 150 firefighters from across the UK have been supporting the work at the dam and in the town.

A severe flood warning, which means a threat to , has been issued for the River Goyt below the reservoir.

BBC Image copyright LincsFireOfficer
Image caption Sandbags are shoring up the structure

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