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Monday, 12 August, 2002, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
Europe swamped by rain
Floods in the town of Rottenegg, west of Vienna
Cars were abandoned as waters rose (Picture: AP)
Floods are causing havoc in central Europe forcing people to flee their homes, and closing roads and railways.


The scene is catastrophic

Wilfried Weissgaerber
Austrian fire brigade
In Austria helicopters lifted stranded homeowners from rooftops, while in Germany parts of Bavaria are under a state of emergency, and the Czech capital Prague is awaiting the worst floods in more than a century.

The chaos comes after floods in Russia last week caused more than 50 deaths.

Foul weather is also ruining holidays in western and southern Europe, such as Spain and Italy, which would normally be basking in baking sun.

More rain is widely forecast across the region.

Disaster area

Thousands of troops in Austria joined sandbagging operations on Monday in waterlogged regions west of Vienna, while rescue workers lowered food in baskets to people sitting on rooftops.

Flooded rivers on outskirts of Prague
Tributaries of the Vltava are in flood outside Prague
"The scene is catastrophic," said Wilfried Weissgaerber, national fire brigade commander for Lower Austria, describing collapsed houses and washed-out railway tracks.

Floodwaters were reported to be pouring down normally tranquil cobbled streets.

The city of Salzburg has been declared a disaster area, and all its bridges closed.

Officials were warning motorists to get their cars out of underground car parks, which were rapidly filling with water.

Autobahn closed

In Germany three people have died in weather-related accidents since Saturday.


The forecast is bad

Josef Novotny
Prague crisis committee
On Monday in Bavaria the main A8 autobahn became the latest major road to be closed, with waters as high as 1.5 metres (five feet) in some areas.

In Traunstein, homes were evacuated amid fears that a damaged local dam would burst, while in Augsburg the flat roof of a warehouse collapsed under the weight of water.

In the east of the country, firefighters were called out 300 times in the early hours of Monday, as residents attempted to protect their homes from floodwater.

Parts of Dresden were also sealed off.

Evacuations

In the Czech Republic the capital Prague is bracing for a major flood, just days after storms in the south of the country killed six people.


Trains are not running, because bridges have fallen, and buses are not running, because roads are damaged

Jan Bauer
Mayor of Prachatice
"The forecast is bad," said Josef Novotny of the Prague crisis committee, warning that the Vltava river could burst its banks overnight.

Floods affected some parts of Prague on Friday, but Mr Novotny said twice as much water was now bearing down on the city.

Several southern towns are already cut off by water, and some have been evacuated.

"Trains are not running, because bridges have fallen, and buses are not running, because roads are damaged," the mayor of the southern town of Prachatice, Jan Bauer, told Czech radio.

Officials called on residents of the UNESCO-protected town of Cesky Krumlov - the second most popular tourist destination in the country - to leave.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Chazan
"The outlook is still grim"
See also:

12 Aug 02 | Europe
10 Aug 02 | Europe
11 Aug 02 | In Depth
09 Aug 02 | Europe
09 Aug 02 | Europe
18 May 01 | Science/Nature
Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


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