Thousands of people are being evacuated from a Derbyshire town amid fears that lives are at risk from flooding.

It follows the partial collapse of a dam wall in Whaley Bridge and concerns this could cause the River Goyt to rise "rapidly", the Environment Agency said.

Toddbrook Reservoir, which contains 1.3 million tonnes of water, is in the High Peak area and sits above hundreds of homes and businesses in the town. The dam contains 300 million gallons of water, fire chiefs say.

On Thursday evening police said all residents of Whaley Bridge who were at highest risk from flooding have been contacted and asked to leave their homes.

More than 6,000 people live in the town, which is 16 miles southeast of Manchester. There have also been a few evacuations from places downstream such as New Mills and Furness Vale.

On Friday night Boris Johnson met a group of police officers and families at nearby Chapel-en-le-Frith High School, which is being used as an evacuation point.

He said he had seen the dam twice and thought it looked “dodgy but stable”. “It looks pretty scary,” he added.

“There is still a substantial risk and that’s why I really wanted to congratulate the emergency services, because this is a major problem.

“If that dam goes you know the potential destruction that can wreak on the whole of the village below, on livelihoods, on families, on homes. That’s why it’s so important that everybody listens to the authorities and make sure they don’t go back to their homes until they get the go-ahead.”

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