Saturday 19 April 2014

Duke sends floods support message

People watch as the river peaks, causing flooding in Medicine Hat, Alberta (AP)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have sent a message of support to the people of Canada after devastating floods claimed three victims and displaced tens of thousands.

In a message to Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, William said he and his wife were saddened to hear of the deaths in the province of Alberta.

The city of Calgary in Alberta has been hit hard by the flooding, although waters are now receding. Its famous annual rodeo festival the Calgary Stampede was visited by the Duke and Duchess in 2011 when they toured Canada a few months after their wedding.

The Duke said in his message to Mr Harper: "Catherine and I have been saddened to learn of the deaths and destruction caused by the unprecedented flooding throughout the Province of Alberta.

"Please pass on our best wishes to the Lieutenant-Governor and Premier of Alberta and to the brave emergency services and all those volunteering to help their neighbours during this ongoing period of intense efforts. Please be assured of our continued thoughts and prayers for all those caught up in the flooding."

Three bodies have been recovered since the flooding began last Thursday in southern Alberta. Torrential rain had filled up creeks and rivers that were unable to contain the downpours and the waters surged over the banks and inundate communities.

Alberta's premier Alison Redford has called the natural disaster the worst flooding in the province's history and said rebuilding could take 10 years. She has already pledged hundreds of millions of pounds to help people recover from the floods.

The president of the Calgary Stampede said the world-famous event will go ahead next week "come hell or high water".

Bob Thompson said crews have been pumping millions of litres of water from the rodeo and fair grounds visited by nearly a million people every year.

He said:"Throughout our entire history, we have never cancelled a show, despite two wars and a Great Depression - 2013 will be no exception."

Press Association

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