A tanker driver was airlifted from his cab after the vehicle was trapped in swollen waters while crossing a ford in a river.

Efforts were continuing yesterday to recover the 14-tonne tanker from the flooded River Coquet, near Warkworth, Northumberland.

The 63-year-old driver was air-lifted from the rising waters by a helicopter from nearby RAF Boulmer after fire crews decided it was too dangerous to attempt a rescue in the early hours yesterday.

Flight Sergeant Jon Caseley, 33, went down on a winch to lift the trucker 50ft into the air to the safety of the helicopter.

He said: "The fire chief on the scene was not prepared to risk one of his blokes in there because the water was flowing swiftly and deep.

''We went to a 50ft hover and I was winched down alongside the cab.

"The driver wound his window down and I pulled him out like the proverbial cork from a bottle.

"When we got him into the aircraft he was physically shaking, and I do not blame him.

"He was fit and well but he was a bit scared by the whole experience."

The tanker had delivered caustic soda to a water treatment plant in Warkworth.

A Northumbrian Water spokeswoman said the driver did not appear to have realised that the ford would be unsuitable at that time.

The Environment Agency said it was monitoring the situation on the river, which is prized for its salmon fishing, but a spokeswoman said there was little risk to wildlife as the tanker was empty