Sunday 25 February 2018

Soldiers sent to battle severe floods from Danube

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks inspects a flooded street near the Elbe river in the east German town of Pirna
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks inspects a flooded street near the Elbe river in the east German town of Pirna

David Rising Berlin

GERMANY dispatched thousands of soldiers to help cities and towns cope with flooding from the rain-soaked Danube and other southern rivers – reinforcements that came a day after the Bavarian city of Passau saw its worst flooding since 1501.

The death toll rose to at least 12, including seven in the neighbouring Czech Republic. Another nine people have been reported missing in the floods that have also swept through Austria and Switzerland.

Chancellor Angela Merkel toured flooded German regions, pledging €100m in immediate federal help.

She told reporters in Passau, a city of 50,000 on the Austrian border, that the damage looked worse than during the massive flooding that hit central Europe in 2002.

Some 5,000 German soldiers were called in as well as more than 2,000 federal disaster workers and 700 federal police to sandbag areas in danger of flooding and provide other assistance. Water levels were still rising in major rivers such as the Danube.

In the Czech Republic, authorities evacuated animals from the Prague Zoo and closed a major bridge in the capital on Tuesday.

On the outskirts of Prague, a Staropramen beer brewery on the river bank was closed, as were several major chemical factories.

One of them – Spolana – released dangerous toxic chemicals into the Elbe during the devastating floods of 2002.

Irish Independent

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