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    Get Your Wellies Out!

    glasto1.jpgThe start of the Glastonbury Festival was postponed today following violent storms that brought Britain's week-long heatwave to an abrupt end.


    The delay was caused by fears for the health and safety of musicians appearing on the Somerset festival's outdoor stages.


    The morning deluge was in stark contrast to the scorching conditions yesterday, when Britain recorded its hottest night since 1959 as temperatures never dropped lower than 21.9C.


    Bands at Glastonbury were due to begin performing at 10.30am today, but a festival spokesman said they had been forced to postpone the start of the event "until further notice".


    Lightning struck a beer tent in the dance field, while Radio 1 was forced to abandon its live coverage after a river close to DJ Jo Whiley's studio rose 12 inches in just 15 minutes. The torrential rain also led to a power cut on the main Pyramid stage, where the White Stripes are due to headline tonight. BBC Somerset Sound's Steve Haig said: "There is nowhere for the rain to soak away and it's just staying on the surface.


    "The communications are down, with radios not working, and some of the bands who were arriving have been told to stay away because their vans might sink in the mud - the whole thing has been thrown into chaos.


    "One can only hope the rain stops soon or this festival is going to go down as a disaster."


    Festival-goer James Nadin said there was a rude awakening for some fans this morning when a river broke its banks and a three-metre wide torrent began running through a field where thousands of tents were pitched.


    "It's literally gone through people's tents. People are trying to rescue their stuff which is being washed away," he said. "There are a lot of very soggy people around."


    Jeremy Knight, 46, from Bedford, who is on his first trip to Glastonbury, said: "I don't think you can come to Glastonbury and be too disappointed if it rains. It's a bit like Wimbledon - of course it's going to rain."


    Glastonbury organiser Michael Eavis, who has run the festival on his farm since 1970, said earlier he hoped it would not become a mudbath.


    "We've had four or five days of good weather so the ground is firm," he told the BBC. "We've also spent a lot of money on the drainage, so the main site should be OK."


    The violent storms, that struck the south west today - and are heading for London - brought an end to the week-long heatwave. Spectacular lightning strikes were seen across the south-west including this one at Studland Bay, in Dorset.


    Torrential rain and lightning caused serious travel problems in the region, with travellers at Southampton airport experiencing delays as the severe summer storms stopped planes taking off.


    After six hours of downpour the rain at Glastonbury finally stopped late this morning and the first rays of sunshine broke through. Sodden festival-goers greeted the change in weather with cheers.

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