Britain's west coast has been decimated by torrential rain and hurricane force winds which battered the region through the night.

The Met Office issued its highest-level red warning of "exceptionally strong winds" for west Wales and northwest England. It said a gust of 106mph (170kph) was recorded at Aberdaron in northwestern Wales.

The floods have also drenched the south-west, the low-lying Somerset Levels and the Thames Valley west of London, where hundreds of properties have been swamped after the Thames burst its banks.

A total of 850 people have already been rescued in Surrey alone, and around 80,000 homes are still without power.

Although forecasters have suggested the weather may abate slightly on Thursday, 16 flood warnings still remain in place in Berkshire, Surrey and Somerset.