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. Southern England mops up, as storm alert eases

by Staff Writers
London (AFP) March 11, 2008
Parts of southern England mopped up Tuesday after a major storm triggered travel chaos and flash floods, as conditions eased, albeit with more high winds forecast further north.

Some 2,400 homes remained without electricity along the south coast, which took the brunt of gale-force winds and driving rain which swept in from the Atlantic on Monday, also hitting northern France.

"We had teams out across the region again from early this morning to restore supplies as quickly and as safely as possible," said a spokesman for power firm EDF Energy Networks.

On Monday the storm forced the cancellation of over 130 flights from London's Heathrow and other airports, while the main Channel port of Dover closed and three vessels ran into problems off the English and French coasts.

Amid winds of up to 80 miles per hour (130 kilometres per hour), sea defences were breached in a number of places, flooding homes and forcing residents and tourists to evacuate to higher ground.

But in the first half of the day Tuesday there were few reports of problems. "We haven't had any reports of disruption today to operations," said a spokeswoman for the British Airports Authority (BAA).

Weather forecasters did however warn that more high winds were expected later in the day and possibly into Wednesday.

"There is still a risk of high waves and coastal flooding as a result of severe weather conditions," said the Environment Agency, which on Monday had issued seven severe flood warnings.

The Met Office said it "continues to forecast a swathe of severe westerly gales to affect parts of the UK on Tuesday night and through the first half of Wednesday."

Predicting gusts of up to 75 miles per hour, it said the strongest winds would be in Northern Ireland on Tuesday evening, moving into southern Scotland and northern England on Wednesday.

"Disruption to transport and power supplies is possible and there may be damage to buildings and trees," it added in a statement on its website.

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Disasters killed 20,000 in 2007: study
Zurich (AFP) March 11, 2008
Natural and man-made disasters killed 20,000 people in 2007 and cost the world economy more than 70 billion dollars (45 billion euros), reinsurer Swiss Re said Tuesday.

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