3 dead, 1 missing after British floods
British police announced a third flood-related death Tuesday afternoon as emergency services struggled to recover from the country's worst flooding in 60 years.
In Bedford, north of London, a man died after jumping into the River Great Ouse. Witnesses saw him swim to the middle of the river before going under. He was pulled from the water by rescuers but pronounced dead at a hospital.
The first casualties were newborn twins. Their mother went into labour at home in Tewkesbury, north of Gloucester, where she was trapped by the rising water.
Two Royal Air Force helicopters on Saturday took the mother and children to hospital, but the premature twins died, police said.
Tewkesbury police were also looking for a 19-year-old man who disappeared Saturday after leaving a pub.
Queen Elizabeth, in a message of support on Tuesday afternoon, said she was "shocked and deeply concerned" by the damage from the severe weekend floods, which left 350,000 people without running water.
After thanking the emergency services, military and volunteers, she expressed sympathy "to all the many people whose homes have been damaged, livelihoods threatened or who have been affected by the water and power shortages."
Tewkesbury, where the rising waters entered the region's 900-year-old abbey church for the first time since 1760, has been one of the hardest-hit areas in the worst flooding in Britain in 60 years.
"It was just devastation — total chaos, cars floating past, rubbish, all kinds," said John King, a 68-year-old retired firefighter from Tewkesbury. "You just can't stop water of that power."
Early Tuesday, emergency officials said workers restored power to thousands of homes in the hardest-hit regions in the country's west.
Water levels peaked on the River Thames in Oxford, but communities downstream were scrambling to prepare for surges in a few days.
"River levels have peaked and the level is now falling, but due to the current high volumes of water, this is happening quite slowly," Gloucestershire police spokesman Katy Roberts said.
Forecasters said more showers were expected across the country throughout the week, with heavy rainfall predicted for Thursday.
Up to 10,000 homes have been flooded or are under immediate threat of flooding in seven counties, as officials estimated the damage could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.
Six severe flood warnings were still in place Tuesday throughout the region.
With files from the Associated Press