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English town threatened by partially-collapsed dam wall

An RAF Chinook helicopter flies in sandbags to help repair the dam at Toddbrook reservoir near the village of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire Source: AAP

Residents have been evacuated as rescue crews try to repair a partially-collapsed dam wall threatening to burst and flood the the English town of Whaley Bridge.

More residents are being evacuated from their homes in the English town of Whaley Bridge as authorities feared incoming bad weather increased the risk that a damaged dam wall could to burst.

Two days after some 1,500 residents fled, a further 55 homes were being evacuated due to a potential increase in risk of adverse weather in coming days and the ongoing risk of the Toddbrook Reservoir breaching", Derbyshire Police said.

Earlier on Saturday, residents were briefly allowed to return to their homes to collect essential belongings and pets as rescue crews worked to repair the partially-collapsed dam wall that threatens to burst and flood the town, the Department for Environment said.

A Met Office yellow weather warning is in place on Sunday for much of northern England and the Midlands, including the area around the reservoir.

The government said military helicopters dropped over 400 sandbags against the damaged wall and operations to pump away water continued as levels at the reservoir had been reduced by 1.3 metres since Thursday.

However, "the state of the dam is still in a critical condition and that the risk of breach is still a very real threat," Chief Superintendent Michelle Shooter said.

Fire brigade chief Terry McDermott said the engineers working to repair the dam were "very unsettled" by the current situation.

"Everyone is working as hard as possible to get ahead of the curve and remove as much water as possible today, overnight and into tomorrow, to minimise the impact of any bad weather that does materialise," Deputy Chief Fire Officer Gavin Tomlinson said.

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