Weather Extreme Hit Southeast Europe,
Extreme weather hit Europe Saturday as the death toll from a heat wave in
A total of 11 people have now died in
People in many parts of the country were being advised not to travel, while Prime Minister Gordon Brown stepped in to praise the "superb" work of the armed forces and emergency services tasked with handling the response.
Rail company First Great Western told would-be passengers to stay at home, while thousands of motorists were stranded for hours as motorways in some parts of the country came to a standstill.
Weather forecasters the Met Office had severe weather warnings in place across a thick band of south-eastern and eastern
And in Worcestershire, in the badly hit west central of the country, more than 1,000 people were spending Saturday night in temporary accomodation. Some 2,000 in the region slept away from home Friday night.
Military helicopters have rescued more than 100 people from house rooftops, caravan parks and a bridge as well as strips of land cut off by water since rains hit on Friday, rescue officials said.
At Stratford-upon-Avon in central
A spokesman for forecaster MeteoGroup said that more storms were looming later Saturday and Sunday, although on a less severe scale.
Some 141 domestic and international flights leaving from and arriving to
The spokesman said flights were running normally on Saturday.
Stewart Wortley, a meteorologist at the Met Office, refuted suggestions in front-page newspaper headlines that the storms hitting
"Whilst they are unusual to be widespread like this, they're not totally unusual. They have happened before," Wortley told AFP.
He said 142.6 millimetres (5.6 inches) of rain fell in Pershore, Worcestershire on Friday, far short of the 279 milimetres (10.9 inches) that fell in Martinstown, Dorset on July 18, 1955 -- the daily record in
In another comparison, he said, some 43 milimetres (1.6 inches) of rain fell in one hour in south
The latest bad weather came after four people died in floods in June, and thousands of people are still homeless after flood damage in central and northern
Bulglaria has endured a five-day heat wave that has sparked forest fires and left two people dead.
Thousands without fresh water as floods bring chaos
The Guardian (
More than 350,000 people are facing days without fresh water supplies and a clean-up operation lasting months as devastating floods this weekend left communities cut off across central and southern
Last night waters were still rising in several parts of the country as the Severn and Thames threatened to burst their banks in
Today Hilary Benn, the environment secretary, will make an emergency statement to the Commons and Gordon Brown's first monthly press conference as prime minister is certain to be dominated by criticism about the speed of the response to the latest flooding. He is expected to visit flood affected areas this morning, though
· More people were airlifted to safety in one of the RAF's biggest peacetime operations and the army distributed aid to thousands cut off by rising water in Upton upon Severn, Worcestershire and Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire;
· Eight severe flood warnings were in place overnight, including in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and parts of London, and a second peak in water levels was predicted for tonight;
· The government defended its handling of the crisis, but the chief executive of the Environment Agency, Lady Young, said it would cost £1bn a year to prevent further flooding, and predicted worsening conditions in future due to climate change;
· Severn Trent Water said 150,000 homes are without water in Gloucestershire and about 250,000 more residents of Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury could be without clean water for the next 72 hours after a treatment plant was flooded;
· The Red Cross was called in to help evacuate 20 patients from
The government was facing criticism for being unprepared for the floods, which have devastated communities and led to more than 2,000 people spending the night in emergency shelters after almost two months of rain fell in one day on Friday. Forecasters predicted the downpour on Wednesday.
The Conservative leader, David Cameron, whose Witney constituency in Oxfordshire is one of those badly affected, said serious questions needed to be asked about
The Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, said: "It was known for some days that this was likely to happen. I think there'll be questions asked about the degree of preparedness there was to meet what is obviously a very, very dramatic outcome."
The Environment Agency defended its response amid claims that defences were not in place. Lady Young, its head, said it could not protect people against "unpredictable" rainfall and the onus was on local authorities to improve flood defences .
"The big challenge is for local authorities and their water companies to take a longer look, a 25-year look at the drainage systems in their cities and urban areas because clearly they are piecemeal over a number of years, insufficient for the number of rain events we have been seeing recently," she said.
The floods come less than a month after seven people were killed as swathes of northern
Doncaster saw 5,000 properties damaged, while
The government's civil emergencies committee Cobra met yesterday and ministers began to visit the parts of the country worst affected by the flooding.
Mr Benn said the emergency was not yet over. Visiting
He brushed off suggestions that there were not enough troops available to help deal with the crisis, insisting he had full confidence in the Environment Agency and that military help was available to local authorities and emergency services. There had been a cut in the agency's forward planning budget, he said, but capital expenditure was being increased from £600m to £800m by 2010-11.
People began panic-buying water in Gloucestershire yesterday. The town was cut off, with police using six boats to ferry people in and out, and the hospital was evacuated.
Police said car thieves and flood sight-seers were becoming a problem for the emergency services conducting rescue operations.
Shona Arora, director of public health for Gloucestershire, advised people to conserve water and not to panic buy.
She asked people not to take baths or try to clean up flood damage, as that would use up the water supply from the mains system. She also advised parents to stop their children from playing in floodwater.
Thousands flee rising waters in
Forecasters warn water levels could rise to critical levels
MSNBC News Services, July 23, 2007
In Gloucestershire county, 70,000 homes have had water supplies cut due to potential contamination from river runoff, and up to 140,000 homes may be affected in the coming days. More than 40,000 homes in the area had their electricity supplies cut early on Monday after a nearby power station was shut down.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that the government will formally review flooding prevention strategies, concentrating on drainage and protecting infrastructure from further flooding.
During a tour of Gloucestershire, Brown also announced increased funding for flood and coastal defenses across the country.
Insurers estimate claims for flood damage could top $4 billion, on top of an estimated $3 billion of claims after floods in June in central and northern
The monsoon-like rainfall over the past month has led to mass evacuations, severely affected transport and threatened water supplies.
In some towns cars and trucks were abandoned after streets turned into waterways. Emergency crews in small boats have been handing out drinking water and evacuating the elderly and young.
More than 2,000 people spent Sunday night in emergency shelters and the Royal Air Force and coast guard helicopters were called in over the weekend to airlift hundreds to safety in one of Britain's largest peacetime rescue operations.
"I'm afraid to say that I don't think we have seen the peak yet," John Harman of
"All this water that we have seen ... is now into the river system. Even though the rain has eased off a bit ... it's the water in the rivers now that constitutes a threat."
The agency warned water levels could rise to a critical level, and issued nine severe flood warnings across the country.
Peak expected Tuesday
It said it was focusing on western counties where the rivers Thames and
Meteorologists say the rain is not expected to peak until Tuesday, meaning further water and electricity shortages are likely, the agency said.
The situation is looking critical at the moment. Unfortunately the misery is set to continue, said Environment Agency spokesman Joe Giacomelli.
He said all those in severe flood warning areas were advised to evacuate.
Train routes in several areas have been suspended, and replacement bus services have been canceled because of waterlogged roads.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.