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Britain put on red alert

world Updated: Feb 13, 2014 00:02 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times
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Britain’s freakish weather has long been the subject of much humour, but most of it has run dry as unceasing rains and severe storms cripple normal life in what Prime Minister David Cameron called the “wettest start to a year in 250 years”.

As weather officials today issued ‘red’ alerts about storms of 100mph, the damage caused so far continues to challenge relief efforts, with soldiers ready to pitch in where required. The day was dubbed ‘wild Wednesday’ as severe storms lashed various parts of the country.

Besides Somerset and along the Thames, north-west England and Wales have also been put on alert.

Visibly shaken by the flood damage during a visit to south-west England, Cameron said: “It is a huge challenge and we have had the wettest start to a year for 250 years, some of the most extreme weather we have seen in our country in decades”.

He added: “We have to recognise it is going to take time before we get things back to normal. We are in for the long haul but the government will do everything it can to coordinate the nation’s resources. If money needs to be spent, it will be spent; if resources are required we will provide them; if the military can help, they will be there”.

Tapping into popular discontent over government handling of the floods, the mass circulation Daily Mail launched a petition, asking Cameron to divert some of 11 billion pounds British overseas aid to ease the suffering of floods victims and build flood defences.

The tabloid’s campaign was launched amidst demands by MPs across party lines that the government should divert international aid to countries such as India, and spend it on flood relief within the country.

The tabloid commented: “Britain has given hundreds of millions in aid towards flood relief overseas. Now, our own people are enduring the misery. So today we launch a petition calling on Mr Cameron to divert some foreign aid to tackling our domestic disaster – to relieve victims’ immediate needs and to repair and update our neglected defences so nothing like this can happen again”.