As high tides and strong winds batter Britain, the coastguard and police are warning people to stay safely on shore and not venture out to sea

Following two serious incidents over recent days in which people have entered the sea in rough conditions, and with 16 severe flood warnings in force in south-west England, Gloucestershire and Wales, Devon and Cornwall, police and the coastguard are appealing to residents to take care in the stormy weather.

A police spokesperson said: “There are people who enjoy swimming in all weathers as well as those who may underestimate the danger a rough sea can pose. During the current bad weather, we would like to appeal to people not to put themselves, and emergency personnel who might have to turn out to rescue them, in unnecessary danger.”

The River Severn has burst its banks and waves of over 30ft are expected to hit parts of Devon and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly later today, with serious flooding in many areas already reported.

However, Tom Mansell, RNLI divisional operations manager and flood rescue team leader, told the BBC that the situation so far had been “better than expected” and as long as people take caution the flood defences in place should be able to cope.

“This is coastal flooding that we are expecting,” he said. “Such areas are reasonably used to this but the danger is really where people are going down to have a look. They don’t understand how dangerous the sea can be.”

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