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Tuesday, 13 August, 2002, 17:28 GMT 18:28 UK
Prague floods surge to new peaks
Prague residents watching River Vltava
Residents fear the worst is still to come
Flood waters in the Czech capital, Prague, are surging towards new peak levels, with fears that river defences will be overwhelmed and the old city completely inundated.

Parts of the city's historic Mala Strana district are already submerged and many people fear the worst is still to come as water levels from the Vltava River rise further.

Thousands of people have already left the capital - Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla had authorised rescue teams to use reasonable force to remove those refusing to leave their homes.

Freak weather has caused havoc across Europe - from Romania to Russia. More than 70 people are known to have died.

Prague's treasures

Water has engulfed Prague's Kampa island close to the Old Town, flooding historic palaces and villas.

The city is now bracing itself for a second flood tide, threatening to overwhelm the historic Charles Bridge, one of this country's biggest tourist symbols.

Amid concerns that many people could be stranded without water and electricity, Prague's Mayor Igor Nemec ordered up to 40,000 inhabitants to leave their homes.

It's just awful, what is happening here. Many people are anxious and nervous

The BBC's Ray Furlong in Prague says objections were overcome with persuasion, and threats that emergency powers would be used to forcibly evacuate people.

"The worst is still to come," said Gabrila Bartikova, a spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry.

The floods have already inundated southern parts of the Czech Republic. At least eight people have died, road and rail lines have been cut, and towns and cities swamped.

Vienna threatened

The unusual weather is threatening much of Europe.

In Austria seven people are known to have died in floods.

The River Danube - already swollen to record levels - burst its banks in the capital Vienna on Tuesday. However, the situation eased in the city of Salzburg, which has already been declared a disaster zone. Some of the bridges re-opened to traffic on Tuesday after the city was virtually cut in half a day earlier with 1,000 buildings partially or totally submerged.

The worst is still to come

Gabrila Bartikova, interior ministry spokeswoman

In the province of Lower Austria, west of Vienna, the historic town of Ybbs An Der Donau has been engulfed, and several other small towns are threatened.

In Germany parts of Dresden and Munich were evacuated. A state of emergency has been declared in seven districts of Bavaria.

Among the dead was a 68-year-old woman who died while trying to clear her flooded basement in Dresden.

Further south in Romania, three people have been confirmed dead - including a mother and her baby killed when their house collapsed.

The Black Sea area of Russia has been particularly hard hit, with at least 58 deaths over the course of the weekend.

The BBC's Kirsty Lang
"It is easy to see how people have lost their lives being swept away in the currents"
Janet Barrie reports
"In this town of five thousand, five hundred are homeless tonight"

European havoc

Germany ravaged

Prague drama

Freak phenomenon?


See also:

13 Aug 02 | Entertainment
12 Aug 02 | Europe
10 Aug 02 | Europe
11 Aug 02 | In Depth
09 Aug 02 | Europe
09 Aug 02 | Europe
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