About 31,000 properties without water in St Leonards and Hastings - as vulnerable woman 'has water stolen from doorstep'

About 31,000 properties were left without water in St Leonards and parts of Hastings after a mains pipe burst.

Southern Water said it "worked through the night" to try to fix the problem, which has left homes in the East Sussex towns without supplies since Thursday afternoon.

The company apologised to customers still left without water on Saturday evening, saying the burst pipe had been repaired.

But the firm said disruption could continue into Sunday as water will only be released to taps once it has passed "stringent" quality tests".

Water is being delivered to thousands of vulnerable people and four bottled water stations have been set up, which will close at 9pm and reopen at 8am.

Labour MP candidate for Hastings & Rye, Helena Dollimore, earlier said more than 50,000 people were in need of water as she urged the company to do more to resupply communities.

Some schools and businesses, including the White Rock Theatre and Summerfields leisure centre, had to close on Friday due to the lack of water.

One person posted on X that her mother, who has mobility issues, had 12 bottles delivered but six of them were stolen from her doorstep.

Another resident urged the water company to open a bottle station in the town centre "like we have been asking all day".

A third local, posting on X, said: "Dear Southern Water - surely you have a responsibility to get water to people - not expect people to get to you.

"People without transport are unable to pick up in any quantity. Why not drop water at streets affected? Waiting in lengthy queues for water is not ok."

Some have praised the firm's response, however, with one person on social media thanking it for the "brilliant service delivering to my disabled brother so promptly".

Southern Water said: "We have made the repair to the burst pipe, we are recharging the network and we will be restarting our treatment works at Beauport overnight.

"Once the water has passed stringent quality tests it will be released to customers taps. We will post further updates about this and when supply will be restored - but disruption could continue into tomorrow.

"In the meantime, we will continue delivering bottled water to more than 6,000 customers who are on our priority services register."

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A Southern Water spokesman earlier said repairs had been been complicated by the location of the burst pipe.

It is in deep woodland near the A21, forcing the company to fell 50 trees to get access, Tim McMahon told BBC Radio 4.

"It is by far the most difficult location I've ever seen," he said.