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In pictures: River Thames bursts its banks near London

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-11

The River Thames burst its banks after reaching its highest level in years on Monday, flooding riverside towns just outside of London.

British troops and residents stacked sandbags around buildings to protect them from the latest wave of flooding, but the river still inundated several places, leaving areas including the centre of the village of Datchet underwater.

The Environment Agency has issued 14 severe flood warnings – meaning there’s a danger to life – along the Thames east of Windsor, about 20 miles (32 kilometres) from London.

“Extreme weather will continue to threaten communities this week,” Paul Leinster, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said, warning that more flooding from the Thames could be expected Tuesday.

There were no flood alerts along the parts of the river that flow through London. That stretch is protected by the Thames Barrier, a series of giant metal gates downstream of the city’s centre that can be closed against tidal surges, forcing excess water to flow down towards the sea.

England has had its wettest January since 1766. Its southwest coast has been battered repeatedly by storms and a large area of the low-lying Somerset Levels in the southwest has been under water for more than a month.

The disaster has sparked a political storm, with the Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative-led government facing criticism from many residents for allegedly failing to dredge rivers and take other flood-prevention measures.

Both Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited flood-hit areas Monday as the government struggled to take charge of the flooding crisis.

Cameron denied the government had been slow to respond.

“We have been dealing with it from the very moment it started,” he said. “Where money was needed, we provided more money. Where military was needed, I made sure the military was deployed.”


(FRANCE 24 with AP)

Date created : 2014-02-10

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