Waves crash against an already damaged railway line and
buildings at Dawlish during storms in southwest England.
One man was killed and thousands left without power as
storms and high winds battered Britain, bringing more misery to
already flooded areas and causing widespread travel chaos.
Gusts of more than 160kmh lashed western England and Wales
overnight, Britain's Met Office said, while severe flood
warnings remained in place for much of the south and west of
A man in his 70s died in a suspected electrocution after a
tree brought down cables in Wiltshire, police said. The
Energy Networks Association, which represents energy
companies, reported that some 80,000 customers were still
Parts of southwest England have been under water for weeks
after heavy rain in February followed the wettest January in
nearly 250 years. More recently, areas around the River
Thames to the west of London, along an important economic
corridor, have been inundated.
The government, which has been criticised for reacting too
slowly to the floods, has promised to spend whatever is
needed on the relief effort.
But opposition Labour party members of parliament on Thursday
accused the government of rehashing old announcements on
funding to repair and reinforce transport infrastructure and
presenting them as new money.
Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin said the question of
applying for cash from the EU Solidarity Fund had been
discussed at Wednesday's meeting of the government emergency
"The minister for the cabinet office is actually looking at
all the avenues that are available to us to collect any money
that we may be able to," he said in parliament.
During a radio phone-in, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg
reiterated the government's view that it does not need to
divert money from the foreign aid budget to help flood-hit
communities, after more than 170,000 people signed a petition
being run by the Daily Mail newspaper urging it to do so.
Economic analysts at PwC and Deloitte say insurers could face
a bill of around 500 million pounds ($830 million) for the
flood damage, with more than 5,600 homes affected since early
Emergency services said they had rescued more than 850 people
from their homes along the Thames in Surrey, with the river
in some places at its highest level for more than 60 years.
The severe weather, which the army officer leading the flood
recovery efforts described as "an almost unparalleled natural
crisis" for Britain, has led to major travel disruption.
Motorways and bridges have been closed, and many rail
Meteorologist Charlie Powell said conditions were expected to
improve on Thursday, but more "wet and breezy" weather was
expected at the weekend.
"I don't think it's going to cause as much impact as we have
seen," he said.