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Tags: europe | weather | floods

Germany Battles Floods as Hungary Readies for Deluge

Saturday, 08 June 2013 11:48 AM EDT

BERLIN — Flood waters rose in eastern Germany Saturday, forcing the evacuation of homes and a hospital, as Hungary propped up its defenses against central Europe's worst floods in a decade.

Elsewhere, the Austrian interior ministry confirmed that four people had been killed and two were still missing, raising the death toll in Europe from the past week's floods to at least 18, including 10 in the Czech Republic, which has warned of renewed flood risks.

Legions of soldiers and volunteers worked through the night to reinforce dikes and repair leaks in eastern Germany and in Hungary.

Throughout the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, thousands of residents have been evacuated from their homes as water levels on the Elbe river — already at record levels in the past few days — continued to rise by more than a half inch every two hours, according to officials.

In Bitterfeld, patients had to be removed from a hospital as a dike threatened to burst, and in the nearby medieval city of Magdeburg, flooded roads forced the evacuations of several old people's homes.

In Muehlberg, a town in Branbenburg state that was already evacuated in the last few days, the situation remained "very tense," said local police spokeswoman Ines Filohn.

Some 900 soldiers and volunteers overnight there had to build an emergency road so hundreds of trucks could gain easier access to a dike that needed to be reinforced.

"We need to protect the dikes no matter what," said Wolfgang Brandt, a spokesman of the Brandenburg state crisis center.

Along the Danube, Hungary was next in line to suffer from the rising waters, with the flood expected to peak on Monday morning in Budapest.

Some 1,500 people had already been evacuated in the northwest of Hungary, where the river has reached record levels in several locations.

Emergency workers and volunteers worked overnight to reinforce leaking dikes, build missing barrier sections or remove water, and extra truck drivers were called in to help transport sandbags to affected areas.

"We will defend every section of dike and protect every single person, we won't leave anybody in danger in their houses," Prime Minister Viktor Orban said at a press conference Saturday.

By Saturday morning, Orban said 972 people — including 188 people in Budapest — had been evacuated by authorities from their homes.

"We're doing well, as we haven't lost any lives, or suffered serious injuries yet," he added.

Meanwhile, the bridge linking Slovakia and Hungary at Esztergom was closed to traffic early Saturday.

The Danube was still rising in southern Slovak towns and villages, downstream from Bratislava, and was expected to culminate in the afternoon.

In the Czech Republic, the clean-up effort was under way to remove the thick layer of muck left behind by the retreating waters, but Prime Minister Petr Necas warned that "the floods are not over."

With more heavy rains expected in the next few days, the soaked ground would not be able to absorb any more water and anti-flood precautions were to stay in place, according to the authorities.

Meteorologists in western Austria, one of the first regions hit by the floods last weekend, also warned that new rain in the coming days could trigger more flooding and landslides in the alpine valleys.

© AFP 2022

Flood waters rose in eastern Germany Saturday, forcing the evacuation of homes and a hospital, as Hungary propped up its defences against central Europe's worst floods in a decade.
Saturday, 08 June 2013 11:48 AM
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