Gas main explodes in Manchester amid flooding (VIDEO)

Gas main explodes in Manchester amid flooding (VIDEO)
Prime Minister David Cameron has defended cuts to flood defense spending, as dramatic footage reveals widespread damage. One video shows a gas main exploding in Greater Manchester after a footbridge collapsed.

Videos of the blast, which occurred in the town of Radcliffe, surfaced on YouTube on Tuesday, amassing more than 20,000 hits. 

Many in northern England, which has seen the brunt of the damage, have accused the government of permitting a “north-south divide” on flood defense funding.

Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake said on Sunday that northern England had not received “anywhere near the support that we saw going into Somerset” – which was flooded last year – and warned of “real anger growing across the north.”

Blake took the government to task for scrapping a £180 million (US$266 million) flood defense scheme in 2011, calling the damage caused this year a “preventable disaster.”

Ministers instead voted for a modest £45 million flood alleviation scheme that would protect just the city center.

Cameron dismissed the accusation of a north-south divide during a visit to flooded parts of York. The prime minister claimed his government is spending “more per head of the population on flood defenses in the north than we do in the south.”

“We are going to spend £2.3 billion on flood defenses in this parliament but we will look at what’s happened here and see what needs to be done.”

Locals also chimed in to criticize the government’s flood response.

One woman heckled Cameron, shouting “no more cuts to public services” as he spoke to a mountain rescue team, the Times reports.

The Yorkshire Evening Post railed against the government’s neglect and called for immediate action, writing on its front page on Monday: “A Northern Powerhouse is nothing when it is under several feet of mucky water.”

Weeks of heavy rain have caused widespread damage throughout northern England in recent weeks. Several rivers in parts of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester burst their banks after record rainfall this winter.

The Environment Agency has nine severe flood warnings currently in place and has told people across the region to prepare for more flooding as Storm Frank hits on Tuesday night.

The storm is expected to first hit Northern Ireland around 9pm, striking north-west England just after midnight.

Despite the flood risk, the UK is continuing to build almost 10,000 homes a year on floodplains.