A woman has died and two others were seriously injured after a tree fell on them as floods and high winds battered parts of Britain.

The three were injured when a large tree collapsed in Western Way in Exeter at 11.50pm. Police said the woman who died was 21 and had been living in a small tent sheltered against the wall at the roadside when the tree fell on it. She died almost immediately.

Meanwhile, people were forced to flee their homes on Saturday night as flood water and torrential rain caused "serious threats to life" in villages in Cornwall.

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Ten people were evacuated from the tiny community of Portholland near Mevagissey after a landslip towards the east of the coastal village. Devon and Cornwall Police said part of the cliff behind five houses had given way due to the weather.

By 8am on Sunday morning, the Environment Agency (EA) said there were two severe flood warnings - the highest alert possible - in place, both in the South West, 220 flood warnings, mostly affecting the South West and the Midlands, and 254 flood alerts. Flood alerts were issued for the South West, the Midlands, Anglia, the North East, the South East and Wales.

Roads have also been closed across the South West as highways became impassable because of rain and debris. The M5 was shut between junction 25 and 26, Devon and Cornwall Police said.

Emergency services, rescue crews and EA bosses worked throughout the night to help stricken communities and spread messages of safety to people following four days of uninterrupted rainfall.

Environment Minister Richard Benyon encouraged people to sign up to the Environment Agency's free flood warnings, which would give them time to react to more rain.

He praised the work of the various agencies that had dealt with the recent flooding and said localised management of flood situations by local authorities, emergency services and the Environment Agency appeared to be working.

Mr Benyon told the BBC: "We recognise that while somewhere over 400 homes have been flooded, we have actually managed to protect over 24,000 homes by recently-constructed flood defences, and so that is, if you like, the silver lining to this cloud."