Andrew Castle 7am - 10am
RAF Chinook Brought In To Assist Whaley Bridge Dam Collapse
2 August 2019, 09:39 | Updated: 2 August 2019, 09:46
An RAF Chinook has been brought into Whaley Bridge in efforts to stop the Toddbrook Reservoir collapsing after it was "badly" damaged during heavy rain.
Thousands of residents were evacuated from the town on Thursday evening amid fears they were in "mortal danger".
Toddbrook Reservoir, which holds around 1.3 million tonnes of water, has seen "extensive" damage during the flooding and images appear to show a huge hole in the dam wall.
Firefighters from Shirebrook shared a video of the Chinook arriving at the dam.
Detective Chief Superintendent Rachel Swann, of Derbyshire Police, said the helicopter is assisting efforts to drain the reservoir by dropping aggregate on the "surrounding watercourses" which feed into it, in order to divert water elsewhere.
She added: "With all that said, at this time the future of the dam wall remains in the balance and I would remind people of the very real danger posed to them should the wall collapse."
The Environment Agency have said the incident currently poses a 'significant threat to life' and has urged residents to stay away from the area.
Police told residents to gather at Chapel High School in the neighbouring town of Chapel-en-le-Frith and to take pets and medication with them as they are unsure how long they will be evacuated for.
But the Chief Executive of Canal and River Trust, which operates the reservoir, Richard Parry said it could be "at least 24 hours" until they could rule out the dam collapsing.
David Lomax, a local Lib Dem councillor for Whaley Bridge, said he understood there to be a "50/50 chance" of the dam collapsing.
Speaking to Tom Swarbrick, Mr Lomax said: "They're dumping thousands of tonnes of stone by the helicopter to try and divert water away from the reservoir, they're pumping out vast amounts as well, which is putting the river at risk further down which is why people are being evacuated from other areas.
"They are going to have to do a lot of work in this short spell of dry weather."