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Flood damage cost 'to hit tens of millions'

The cost of repairing the damage done by the weekend floods is likely to be tens of millions, insurers said today.

But that figure could rise even further as forecasters predicted more rain later this week, hampering the clean-up effort.

Storms lashed parts of the North East of England, Herefordshire, Yorkshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire over the weekend, claiming six lives.

The worst affected area was the town of Morpeth in Northumberland, where 400 residents were evacuated and 1,000 properties damaged by floodwater.

The Association of British Insurers said initial estimates suggested damage claims would run into the "low tens of millions".

Forecasters predicted further rain to come tonight and tomorrow. The North East can also expect up to 0.4in (10mm) more on Thursday night.

Government minister John Healey will visit Morpeth today to meet emergency services staff and see the clean-up in progress.

The town was virtually cut off when the River Wansbeck burst its banks on Saturday.

The High Street was swamped with 2ft of water and emergency teams forced to evacuate residents by helicopter.

The Environment Agency issued 42 flood warnings today, mostly for the North East.