Torrential rain causes havoc across Britain

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LONDON (AP) – Swollen rivers from torrential rain forced thousands of people from their homes, and forecasters warned Monday that water levels could rise to critical levels.

More than 48,000 homes in the counties of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire in western England were left without electricity after a flooded power station had to be shut down.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that the government will formally review the flooding, concentrating on drainage and protecting infrastructure from further flooding.

During a tour of Gloucestershire, Brown also announced increased funding for flood and coastal defenses across the country.

The monsoon-like rainfall over the past month has led to mass evacuations, severely affected transport and threatened water supplies. Insurance companies say the damage could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.

Britain’s Environment Agency warned water levels could rise to a “critical level,” and issued nine severe flood warnings across the country.

The agency said it was focusing on western counties where the rivers Thames and Severn are swollen to dangerous levels.

Meteorologists say the rain is not expected to peak until Tuesday, meaning further water and electricity shortages are likely, the agency said.

“The situation is looking critical at the moment. Unfortunately the misery is set to continue,” said Environment Agency spokesman Joe Giacomelli.

He said all those in severe flood warning areas were advised to evacuate.

Train routes in several areas have been suspended, and replacement bus services have been canceled because of waterlogged roads.

AP-ES-07-23-07 1041EDT

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