Britain braced for further flooding

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iol pic wld Britain Floods~6 AP Water overflowing from the River Thames floods a house at Wraysbury, England. Picture: Sang Tan

London -

Southern England was bracing for further flooding on Tuesday, after hundreds more people were evacuated from their homes and 1,600 troops were put on standby to help with flood defences.

Further heavy rainfall over the coming week is expected to worsen what has been one of Britain's wettest winters in years, with thousands of homes flooded and transport networks severely disrupted.

A row between government ministers has also reportedly broken out over the government's handling of the crisis, after cabinet minister Eric Pickles appeared to attack the Environment Agency for failing to take appropriate action.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who has ordered officials to “get on with their jobs,” continued his tour of flood-hit Dorset and Devon and said he would hold a press conference on the government's response later on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said 1 600 troops had been put on standby to help in flooded areas, while hundreds have already been involved in building sandbag defences since the weekend. Around 850 homes have been flooded over the past week and thousands more are at risk.

Some residents have complained of looting from evacuated properties.

The Environment Agency on Tuesday had 16 severe flood warnings in place, 14 in Berkshire and Surrey, where the River Thames burst its banks, and two in Somerset, one of the counties worst-hit by the flooding.

Hundreds more flood warnings and alerts were issued across the country, mainly in southern England.

There was major disruption along the rail line connecting the city of Reading to London Paddington, while train services were also delayed due to flooding in the Midlands and Wales.

The Met Office also predicted that south-west England would bear the brunt of severe winds on Wednesday, with gusts reaching 130 kilometres per hour and possibly further disrupting transport and power lines. - Sapa-dpa

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