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UK's Johnson under fire for flood response as more rain due

LONDON — The leader of Britain’s main opposition party set out to visit flood-hit communities Thursday as criticism grew of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s response to the emergency.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn planned to tour parts of south Wales that were inundated when last-weekend’s Storm Dennis dumped up to 6 inches (150 mm) of rain. The U.K. Meteorological Office said more heavy rain is forecast in already flooded areas of Wales and central England over the next 48 hours.

The Environment Agency says England has already received 141% of its average February rainfall, while major rivers including the Trent, Severn and Wye have all set new height records.

The agency imposed six severe flood warnings advising of a serious danger to life Thursday on the rivers Lugg, Severn and Wye. More than 100 less-serious flood warnings were also in effect.

Storm Dennis — the second major storm of the winter — blew through the U.K. on Saturday and Sunday, bringing wind gusts of up to 90 mph (145 kph) and heavy rain that flooded roads, railways and hundreds of homes and businesses. The storm killed three people in Britain, including a 55-year-old woman who was swept away by floodwaters.

Johnson has been criticized by opponents for failing to visit any flooded areas or to convene a meeting of the government’s crisis committee, COBRA.

“In refusing to visit flood-hit communities, nowhere-to-be-seen Boris Johnson is showing his true colours by his absence,” Corbyn said.

Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi defended the government’s response and said Johnson was “leading the team.”

“Quite rightly, rather than having a sort of jamboree of media and your whole entourage going, he wants to help people by getting the funding to them,” Zahawi said.

The Associated Press

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