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Floods, power cuts spoil UK Christmas mood Hurricane-force winds batter Britain

LONDON, Dec 25, (RTRS): Tens of thousands of Britons will remain without electricity on Christmas Day after torrential rainfall flooded homes and hurricane- force winds battered the country. Two severe flood alerts are in force along with nearly 300 secondary warnings, largely across southern and central England, Britain’s environment agency said on Wednesday. Around 50,000 homes are likely to remain without power throughout Christmas Day according to the Energy Networks Association which represents wire and pipe companies.

Tens of thousands of people have also had their power cut off in France where high winds and heavy rain were still sweeping across the south of the country. Winds of up to 90 mph (145 kph) hit both Britain and France on Dec. 23 and Christmas Eve, with downpours forcing cancellations of rail, flight and ferry services at a peak travel time. Five people - including a man who tried to rescue his dog from a river - have died in Britain over the last three days in accidents linked to the high winds and heavy rainfall. Police in Dorset, southwest England, evacuated over 100 people in the early hours of Wednesday in two separate locations due to fears of flooding from a nearby river. There were more power cuts at London’s second airport Gatwick on Christmas Day as stranded travellers tried to catch flights. Power failures led to angry scenes between passengers and staff on Tuesday. “Due to adverse weather in the last 48 hours there are still power outages in parts of our North Terminal, these are causing delays to departing flights,” said a message on the airport’s website. Some 50,000 homes in Britain were without power on Christmas Day following recent storms, while hundreds of people were evacuated Wednesday due to flooding.

Meanwhile London Gatwick Airport was struggling with power outages in parts of its North Terminal, causing delays to departing flights. High winds and heavy rain battered parts of Europe on Monday and Tuesday, with some areas still reeling from the aftermath. The Energy Networks Association said around 50,000 homes remained without electricity. They are largely in the east and southeast of England “It’s likely that some people will still be off on Boxing Day (Thursday),” said spokesman Tim Field. Power company UK Power Networks offered to pay for Christmas dinners in local pubs or restaurants for people whose supplies remain cut off. Around 90 people were evacuated from 3:00am (0300 GMT) from their homes by the River Stour near Bournemouth on the south coast due to floods, emergency services said. In southeast England, evacuations took place in the London commuter belt towns of Dorking, Leatherhead, Guildford, Godalming and Tonbridge, emergency services added.

Meanwhile the coastguard rescued people from a caravan park in Yalding, after chest-deep river waters cut the site off. All together, hundreds of people were evacuated, emergency services added. London Gatwick, Britain’s second-busiest airport, was running a full schedule following cancellations in the run-up to Christmas. However, “there are still power outages in parts of our North Terminal,” it said, due to the weather. “These are causing delays to departing flights and our engineers are on site rectifying this.”

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