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Monday, October 26, 1998 Published at 09:25 GMT


Counting the cost of the deluge

Premiums will rise for those living by rivers

Torrential rain and flooding over the weekend has caused damage estimated at between £100m and £400m.

The BBC's Mark Connolly surveys the extent of the flooding
The Association of British Insurers, which represents all insurance companies in the UK, says the total cost of the flood and storm damage is no more than £100m.

But Salmon Assessors, a loss assessment company which represents members of the public pursuing claims, reckons the bill will be nearer £400m.

There could be more bad weather to come in midweek. The BBC Weather Centre is forecasting strong to gale force westerly winds and showers which will be heavy and frequent in the west and north on Wednesday.

[ image: Cost of repairing damage could total £400m]
Cost of repairing damage could total £400m
Insurance experts say the true figure for damage caused over the weekend will not be known for some time but point out that this year's Easter floods - which were confined to the Midlands - caused £150m damage.

The rains are bad news for home-owners living near rivers. British insurance companies are meeting later this month to agree an increase in premiums for people whose property is vulnerable to flooding.

Jeffrey Salmon, of Salmon Assessors, reckons those living near rivers could face increases in their premiums of as much as 30%.

Weather has claimed lives

Although weather conditions are improving, there are still red warnings on 10 rivers where property is at risk from floodwaters, mainly in Wales. But that figure is down from 46 on Saturday night.

The weather has now claimed at least three lives. Two canoeists died in the south-west of England and a man drowned in Wales at the start of the weekend.

A farmer in Herefordshire is still missing, presumed dead, after he went missing on Friday.

Prime Minister Tony Blair sent a mesage of "deep sympathy" to the families of those who lost their lives.

The condolences came from Austria, where he was attending a European summit.

He said that the government is "doing what it can" to put right the damage caused by the severe weather.

A team of cavers was forced to spend a night underground near Inchnadamph in Scotland.

The three men and one woman were trapped as water levels rose. They walked free on Sunday morning when water levels dropped again.

In Mallaig, on the west coast of Scotland, a fishing boat had to be towed to safety after storms drove it onto rocks. There were no casualties.

An estimated 10,000 homes were still without power in the Irish Republic on Sunday after a night of storms.

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