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Dawlish Storm - Track left hanging!

Dawlish storm damage rail line closure 'to cost economy millions'

Dawlish Network Rail said the line, which is hanging in mid-air, will take a minimum of six weeks to repair

The storm destruction of the railway line connecting Devon and Cornwall to the rest of the UK will cost the South West economy millions of pounds each day, business leaders have claimed.

Network Rail said the line, which is hanging in mid-air, will take a minimum of six weeks to repair.

In Cornwall, storms have caused damage set to cost £14m to repair so far this year, the local council has estimated.

Across the South West more than 900 homes are still without power.

Plymouth Plymouth waterfront has been battered by large waves

In Exeter, on Wednesday evening, a man was rescued from flood water at Silverton Mill.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said he was found on the roof of his van. His condition is unknown.

At the scene in Kingsand and Seaton

Despite it being a windy night, the clock tower in Kingsand is still standing and structural engineers are expected to assess the building later.

Driving down to Seaton, it looks like a wasteland with broken branches and whole trees being pushed back by the sea.

Sand bags, rocks and boulders are scattered around and the Beach Cafe looks in a bad state.

In Kingsand and Cawsand in south-east Cornwall, the high tide overnight has caused further damage to the seafront buildings and walls.

On Tuesday night, a number of properties were evacuated after Kingsand became swamped by huge waves and stones washed ashore damaged houses and smashed windows.

Resident John De Frane, who suffered a head injury, said: "A huge wave hit the house and took the door off its hinges.

"The water knocked me backwards and I went up the hallway under water and hit my head, knees, elbows and shoulders."

Cornwall Council said the village clock tower was "in a dangerous condition" after it was battered by huge waves.

'Major blow'

Following the destruction of the main railway line at Dawlish, Network Rail said it was "fully committed to restoring a key main line" and "work starts this morning".

Devon and Cornwall Business Council's Tim Jones said the closure was "hugely significant" and "hugely damaging" for the region's economy.

"We've done some initial assessments of what it will cost and we estimate it will be between £1m and £2m a day.

"The amount is based on estimates from last year when Cowley Bridge Junction was closed, disruption to business travellers, the amount lost from taxi companies and businesses around train stations - if you add it all up you come to the estimate we have.

At the scene in Dawlish

It is a case of the calm after the storm.

The police have cordoned off the area and, as far as they know, there has been no further movement.

Evacuated residents from nearby properties have had a second night out of their homes and the future is not good.

Engineers are coming back today, again to try and assess the situation.

"We've got to live with the problem of the Dawlish sea wall and come up with a financially viable solution."

But David Parlby, from the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, said: "Financially we think it will cost £20m for each day the line is closed... to have it disconnected is a major blow."

Up to 150ft (46m) of railway track was destroyed and Dawlish station was also damaged on Wednesday.

In Plymouth, BBC Radio Devon's Jo Irving said the end of Hoe Road was "still cordoned off after waves totally destroyed part of the sea wall in two places".

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