Sunday, August 8, 2010

Nine dead as flash floods inundate central Europe

Rob Strybel in Reuters: Rescue workers sought to clear flood-borne debris including damaged cars and evacuate victims after heavy rains across central Europe killed at least nine people over the weekend. Heavy downpours on Saturday caused rivers to overflow their banks and a dam to burst, submerging towns in the southwest corner of Poland and killing at least three people, Polish officials said on Sunday.…Flood damage and deaths were also reported in neighboring Germany and the Czech Republic, with six deaths.

"We had no warning. In less than an hour our town was totally inundated up to the first floor, many houses collapsed and we were cut off from the world," the mayor of Bogatynia, Andrzej Grzmielewicz told news channel TVN24. "We need amphibious vehicles and helicopters to help evacuate at least 2,000 flood victims," he added, and called on people from higher-lying areas to donate blankets and food for the homeless.

The army has since moved in with heavy engineering equipment and aircraft to evacuate flood victims and clear debris including damaged cars blocking the town's narrow streets. The rupture of a dam on a reservoir in nearby Niedow was responsible for the speed of the water surge, and more rain could lead to major chaos, Interior Minister Jerzy Miller warned. "In view of the dam burst, more heavy rains would mean that we would be entirely unable to control the situation," he said….

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