The South West has been hit by torrential downpours overnight, as one river was given the highest grade flood warning and the heavy rain continues to wreak havoc.

More than three inches of rain fell over Devon, causing rivers to rise quickly and streams to break their banks.

The Environment Agency put a severe flood warning on the River Yealm, meaning there is "severe flooding" and a "danger to life".

A spokesman said: "Rivers continue to rise quickly in response to heavy overnight rainfall. The rain is expected to clear on Saturday morning to generally drier conditions and river levels will begin to fall. Scattered heavy showers are expected to continue throughout the weekend."

The warning for the River Yealm was put in place between Cornwood and Yealmpton, including Cornwood, Lee Mill and Yealmbridge, where the A379 meets the B3186.

The Environment Agency has issued 57 flood warnings and 150 flood alerts across England and Wales. In Scotland the Scottish Environment Protection Agency issued 13 flood warnings in Edinburgh and the Lothians and in the Borders.

Richard Creswell, director of the South West for the Environment Agency, said a month's worth of rain fell on the Yealmpton and Yealm Bridge area in just over 12 hours. The river had also come up to its highest level for 60 to 70 years.

"This was a really significant event," Mr Cresswell said. "The rain just overwhelmed the defences and unfortunately properties have been flooded, but thankfully no one has been hurt.

"It's very unpredictable weather patterns that have been affecting Britain over the last four to five months and we've had this heavy thundery rain along with low pressure affecting parts of country and it just swirls around and very hard to predict where it is going to be worst.

"It's moving across into East Devon and West Dorset and into South Somerset but it's weakening as the day goes on, so we think this event - which we are calling flood number five of summer 2012 - is gradually coming to an end. But no doubt later in the week we will be gearing up for possibly flood number six."