The UK was struck by lightning between 15,000 and 20,000 times as the “mother of all thunderstorms” rolled across southern England overnight, meteorologists said.n

The London Fire Brigade said it had taken more than 500 weather-related calls as the warm and humid bank holiday weather broke down into an “utterly intense” storm.

In Warwickshire, the fire service said five properties were struck by lightning in the early hours of Sunday, while in Dawlish, Devon, a telephone box burst into flames after a BT pole was hit on Saturday evening.

Western Power Distribution said nearly 1,000 properties had been left without power across the Midlands, with the majority of outages down to lightning.

A cluster of 17 flood alerts has been issued for parts of the Thames Valley, while West Midlands and Bedfordshire fire services warned motorists of the risks of driving on flood-hit roads.

Disruption continued into Sunday, as many complained that planes were delayed at Stansted Airport.

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