Storm threatens UK and Dutch coasts

Severe flooding feared as powerful North Sea storm approaches.

    Sand bags are being given out to strengthen
    flood defences [AFP]

    Water levels were predicted to reach 2.84 metres above mean sea level, a Dutch transport ministry spokesman said.
    Water levels rose 3.85 metres above sea level during the 1953 floods.
    Flood warnings
    Large areas of the eastern and northern British coast have been put on severe flood alert.
    The Norfolk and Kent coasts were particularly at risk, the government said.
    Hilary Benn, the British environment secretary, told parliament: "A tidal surge of up to three metres is making its way down the North Sea which could coincide with high tides".
    Benn said: "There is a risk of flood defences being overtopped on the coast and in tidal rivers especially in East Anglia, particularly the Norfolk Broads, the coast south of Great Yarmouth, including Lowestoft, and areas south of this as far as the coast of Kent".
    The UK meteorological office said north-westerly winds exceeding 80 kph were coinciding with low pressure and high tides to produce the exceptional conditions.
    Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, held a special meeting to co-ordinate the emergency response, a spokeswoman said.
    The Thames Barrier which protects London from flooding was closed late on Thursday.
    About 7,500 people in the Great Yarmouth area of Norfolk have been advised to leave and hundreds of elderly residents have been evacuated.
    Evacuation centres in schools have been set up and sand bags delivered to homes along parts of the east coast.
    The 1953 floods killed more than 1,800 in the Netherlands and about 300 in England. The Netherland's system of dikes and canals prevented the floods from permanently flooding two thirds of the country.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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