UK's Cameron cancels Middle East trip due to flood crisis

LONDON (REUTERS) - British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday he had cancelled a planned visit to the Middle East next week to deal with a flooding crisis in England, which has left parts of the country under water for weeks.

After more than a month of unusually heavy rainfall and storms which caused rivers to burst and damaged major transport routes Mr Cameron said he had no choice but to shelve a visit to Israel and Palestine to handle the crisis.

"I'm cancelling my visit to the Middle East next week," Mr Cameron told a news conference. "I'm sending my apologies today to (Israeli) Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu and (Palestinian) President (Mahmoud) Abbas, but nothing is more important than dealing with these floods."

Britain's two-party coalition government is coming under increasing pressure over its response to the floods with critics saying the problems have been exacerbated by years of underinvestment in river dredging and flood defences.

Mr Cameron in particular has endured heavy criticism from those affected for what they say is his government's slow response.

Parts of Britain have seen their wettest January on record and around 5,000 homes have been flooded, with some remaining under water for more than a month.