Monday 20 November 2017

Thousands evacuated as floods hit Europe

Kirsten Grieshaber

Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes in a region of eastern Germany where the Elbe river has flooded and burst through a dam, while the swollen Danube was approaching Budapest where soldiers and volunteers are building flood walls.

Parts of the south and north ends of the Hungarian capital are already under water, but the city's downtown area, including the parliament building and several large hotels near the river bank, are seemingly out of direct danger as flood walls were built to a height of 9.30 metres.

Officials said nearly 8,000 volunteers and specialised crews in Budapest had strengthened flood walls by packing and placing one million sand bags.

At least 21 flood-related deaths have been reported in central Europe, as rivers such as the Danube, the Elbe and the Vlatava have overflowed after a week of heavy rains and caused extensive damage in central and southern Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.

The latest fatality was an 80-year-old man who died of a heart attack in Austria yesterday while cleaning up debris caused by flooding.

In Magdeburg, the state capital of Saxony-Anhalt in eastern Germany, more than 23,000 residents had to leave their homes after many streets and buildings were flooded and electricity was shut off.

The neighbourhood of Rothensee was especially hard-hit by the floods of the Elbe river.

"Rothensee is filling up like a bathtub," Germany army spokesman Andre Sabzog said.

Soldiers were trying frantically to build a dam of sandbags around a power substation.

A flooding of the substation would not only leave thousands of households without water, but also lead to a breakdown of the neighbourhood's dewatering pumps.

Irish Independent

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