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News in brief 

Monday, February 17

A million without power after new storm rages

THE latest in a series of severe winter storms battered Britain on Friday night leaving over a million people without power on Saturday.

Communications and all forms of transport were badly affected as trees fell, power lines were brought down and flood levels increased. British Prime Minister David Cameron described the flooding as a “tragedy” and said people should be braced for more rain.

A minicab driver was killed when falling masonry flattened her car. Her two passengers survived and were being treated in hospital. A 29-year-old pregnant woman died in a road accident in South Wales and a 53-year-old fire fighter died of a heart attack while on duty in a flooded area.

A break in the weather on Sunday allowed workmen to pull hundreds of tonnes of debris from the River Severn in Worcestershire to improve the flow.

Over 3,000 troops are currently deployed in the operations to combat flooding and a further 5,000 are on standby according to the Defence Secretary.

In Hampshire members of the public were warned that unexploded shells had been exposed during the storms.

Customers at a restaurant at Milford on Sea thought they would be safe from the storm, but it grew so ferocious that 32 of them had to be evacuated from the building with the aid of an Army vehicle.


Freak wave hits cruise liner

DURING the latest severe storm a freak wave hit the 22,000-tonne cruise ship Marco Polo in the English Channel killing James Swinstead, an elderly passenger. It is understood the sea broke through a port hole.

An injured woman aged 70 was airlifted off the vessel and 14 other people were treated for minor injuries on board.


Cameron promises to help small firms

PRIME Minister David Cameron has announced a scheme to help small businesses affected by flooding and other weather damage. Funding will be provided to help with the clean-up and £10-million will be made available.

Mr Cameron said recovery would be a long haul requiring a national effort. Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “It is vital that small businesses affected by the flooding get assistance as quickly as possible.”

The pound belongs to Scotland?

SCOTLAND’S first minister Alex Salmond has defended his stance on proposals for Scottish independence following suggestions by the coalition Government that if it went alone Scotland could not expect to keep sterling as its currency.

Mr Salmond wants to keep the pound, although he has been urged by some supporters to consider a new currency.

“The pound is as much Scotland’s as the rest of the UK,” he said.


Inquiry into Bristol Children’s Hospital

AN INQUIRY is to take place into the running of the paediatric unit at Bristol Children’s Hospital following concern over the treatment of newborn babies and young children.

The hospital is accused of a catalogue of neglect and mistreatment of babies and children with heart problems.

Sir Ian Kennedy has agreed to oversee the review and has met with the families of children who died at the hospital.


Five in court on fraud charges

THE trial of five men accused of an audacious plot to steal huge sums of money from a high street bank in Britain will begin at London’s Southwark Crown Court this week.

The five are charged with fraud and conspiring to steal using a keyboard video monitoring device.


Liverpool are out of the FA Cup

ARSENAL beat Liverpool 2-1 in the FA Cup over the weekend. It was a tight game with Liverpool’s Suarez being refused a penalty. The Gunners now meet Everton in the next round.

It was a good win for Arsenal who avenged a 5-1 defeat by Liverpool in a previous match.

Chelsea were beaten 2-0 by Manchester City and last year’s cup winners Wigan beat Cardiff 2-1 to remain in the competition.

Meanwhile negotiations continue over Wayne Rooney’s contract at Manchester United as the club seeks to secure the player’s long-term future.