Some bridges also carry water and power services and, with several severe flood warnings in place, there are fears that these could go down with any further bridge failures.

According to Cumbria County Council structural engineers and the military have been assessing damage to key bridges in the county in an attempt to keep roads open.

However, while several bridges have collapsed they’ve denied the Calva Bridge, in Workington, is to be demolished today.

It is though seriously damaged and will remain closed for the ‘foreseeable future’, according to the authority.

Initial inspections of flood defences, by the Environment Agency, claim they are not damaged and are in a ‘good condition’ to provide continued protection

The Environment Agency said last night it was ‘stepping up’ inspections on flood defences, as river levels continued to rise.

Rainfall totals of 40 to 50mm are predicted over upland areas of Cumbria, although river levels are not expected to return to the record highs of last Thursday and Friday.

Initial inspections of flood defences suggest that they have not been damaged and are in a good condition to provide continued protection.

The Environment Agency has also said the ‘phenomenal’ rainfall would have overwhelmed any defence.

Director of operations at the agency, David Jordan, said: “Our thoughts are with those people whose homes have been flooded and our officers from around the country have been working around the clock to minimise flood damage.

“We are now assessing the damage and checking flood defence, and will be working with emergency services and local authorities to get people back into their homes as quickly as possible.

“The rainfall levels we saw on Thursday and Friday were unprecedented, the highest ever recorded in the UK.

“They washed away road bridges that had stood for decades and no defence could have prevented the flooding we’ve seen.”

About 55 people are still accounted for in the area.

Luke Walsh

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