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United Kingdom threatened by flooding rivers, high winds

  |   Jan. 3, 2014 at 10:26 AM
LONDON, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- People in large swaths of southern and western Great Britain faced flooding rivers and the prospect of winds up to 80 mph Friday, officials said.

The rivers Stour and Severn were out of their banks, the Guardian reported, with sandbags holding back high waters near Belfast's docks in Northern Ireland. The Environment Agency said severe flood warnings were issued in more than a dozen areas in Wales and authorities in Scotland, where winds were expected to top 80 mph, 38 flood warnings and nine alerts were in place, the newspaper said. Scores of warnings were issued elsewhere in Britain, with flooding reported in Looe, Ilfracombe, Barnstable, Plymouth, Caernarfon and Yalding.

Travel was hindered by delays on roads, canceled ferries and disrupted train service, the Guardian said.

About 6,000 homes were without power along Ireland's western coast where winds topped 100 mph earlier. Evacuations were ordered in parts of Cork County.

Prime Minister David Cameron posted on Twitter that he was "ensuring all is being done to help with the flood," the Guardian said.

Cameron said his home in Dean, near Chipping Norton, England, was damaged by the storm Thursday night, the London Evening Standard reported.

"Something went wrong in the roof," he said. "We had a bit of wallpaper coming down, drips into a bucket and a power cut."

British opposition leader Ed Miliband offered his thanks to "our brave emergency services helping those hit by flooding and bad weather."

The Standard said London experienced gale-force winds of up to 40 mph with forecasters calling for the already "exceptional" weather to worsen by Sunday after a respite Saturday.

Several flights were unable to land at Heathrow airport because of the high winds.

"Due to squally conditions there have been a number of go-arounds at Heathrow today," a British Airways spokeswoman told the Standard.

Authorities warned people to stay away from shorelines, including Devon and Cornwall where waves topped 30 feet.

The body of a 27-year-old Guildford man who was washed out to sea while swimming during a New Year's Eve party was recovered Thursday by the coast guard, the newspaper said. A woman, believed to have been on vacation, died Tuesday when she was swept out to sea at Croyde Bay in north Devon.

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