Friday, June 29, 2007

Go back to sleep, little baby, everything's gonna be alright

Flood-Hit Britain Braces For More; As Heatwave Burns Greece

Recent flooding in the UK. Photo courtesy AFP.

Britain braced for more torrential rain this weekend after flooding that has claimed at least four lives and left 3,000 homes inundated since the start of the week. Firefighters went to the aid of nearly 3,500 flood victims, while 1,300 people were forced to spend a third night away from their homes in the hardest-hit region of Yorkshire, in northeast England.

More than 600 injuries have been recorded in England and Wales, as fire brigades deployed what they called their biggest effort in peacetime, with more than 7,300 calls for help on Monday and Tuesday alone.

Property damage is being estimated at several hundred millions of pounds (dollars, euros).

Heavy rain was forecast for London on Saturday, followed the next day by heavy showers, as a "slow moving area of low pressure" crosses the nation, the Meteorological Office said.

Up to 50 millimetres (two inches) of rain could fall in some parts of the country on Saturday and Sunday, forecasters warned.

Eleven severe flood warnings were issued Thursday, concentrated in the northeast.

In Yorkshire, flood evacuees took refuge in emergency shelters, schools and university dormitories, and Sheffield city put an emergency telephone hotline in place.

Matt Wrack, head of the national firefighters union, said the government -- preoccupied with Gordon Brown replacing Tony Blair as prime minister -- did not understand the gravity of the situation.

Queen Elizabeth II sent a message of support to flood victims Wednesday, extended condolences to those who had lost loved ones, and issued "sincere thanks" to the emergency services.

Prince Charles, her eldest son and heir to the throne, was to visit flood victims in the north of England on Friday.

The Yorkshire Forward regional development office promised Thursday one million pounds (1.5 million euros, two million dollars) to help flood-hit enterprises to get back on their feet.

earlier related report
Heatwave And Forest Fires In Greece Leave 11 Dead
A heatwave believed to be the longest ever recorded in Greece has left 11 people dead over the past week including two killed in forest fires, officials said on Thursday. Although temperatures began to fall after a blistering nine-day spell in which they reached 46 degrees Celsius (115 degrees Fahrenheit) in some areas, the arrival of northerly winds fanned forest blazes.

The health ministry on Thursday said nine people had died from heatstroke since Saturday, most of them elderly people with prior health problems.

Also Thursday, the charred bodies of two men, aged 36 and 42, were found in the central region of Agia Larissas where they had become trapped by a blaze on Wednesday afternoon, the fire department said.

Two other men with them escaped. The four had been on their way home after joining efforts to put out the blaze, which burned down one house and continued to lay waste to surrounding forests on Thursday. Thirty-four fire engines were battling the flames there.

Fires have reported from 120 sites across the country since Wednesday morning, although most were extinguished, the fire service said.

Fire fighters were using five planes and a helicopter to combat a blaze in the remote region of Dervenochoria, where they evacuated a camping ground and helped four nuns leave a monastery. Four homes in the area burned to the ground overnight to Thursday.

Strong winds prompted authorities in several regions, including in Attiki in the south, Chalkidiki in the north and the Aegean islands, to declare a state of emergency amid fears of spreading fires, and many homes had to be evacuated.

Greece has appealed for help to the European Union, and France and Italy sent two fire-fighting planes each.

Portugal also said it on Monday would send a plane to help battle the forest fires.

The heatwave caused long blackouts in several Athens districts this week as Greece's electricity grid worked overtime to handle an all-time high demand for power, mainly for air-conditioning.

The temperature in Athens has dropped to 38-39 degrees Celsius from 43 degrees on Wednesday, and is expected to fall further on Friday.

Original article posted here.

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