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Sunday, 18 August, 2002, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
Czechs told to avoid weak buildings
Resident being evacuated from Prague's Karlin district
Karlin district has been worst hit
Residents of the Czech capital Prague have been warned of the risk of collapsing buildings as some of them return home following the worst floods in about 200 years.

Waters from the River Vltava have been receding, but a third building caved in overnight in the city's Karlin district and officials said people should wait until tests were carried out.

A street in Prague, covered in mud as floodwaters recede
The floodwaters left a thick coating of mud
Ten thousand Czech soldiers have been deployed to help with the massive clean-up operation.

But as the situation eased in Prague and other areas of the Czech Republic, many east German towns remained under threat and the Hungarian capital, Budapest, was preparing for the worst with the River Danube expected to peak in the next few hours.

Across Europe, more than 100 people have died in two weeks of flooding, 14 in the Czech Republic.

Caution

The unoccupied block of flats that collapsed overnight on Saturday prompted Prague Mayor Igor Nemec to plead with residents not to try and return home.

Click here for a map of the region

"It's still too dangerous. Buildings must be given safety approval before we can start to think about reoccupying them," he said on Czech state radio.

The building was one of several that have crumbled in the Karlin area since the flooding.

Map of Prague

Residents were also told to get out of part of the northern Prague district of Holesovice.

However, officials still hoped that most of the 45,000 displaced Prague residents would be able to go home by the end of the weekend.

More than 200,000 Czechs have been forced out of their homes by the floods.

Clean-up

The soldiers have been drafted in to help the army of civilian volunteers working to get things back to normal.

In the historic Kampa district of Prague people have been scraping up great piles of thick wet mud that were left by the flood waters.

Dead fish, fallen trees and other bits of flotsam are also being removed.

Offers of help have been arriving - including from Russia, the United States, UK and other countries. The European Union has already pledged $50m - a fraction of what will be needed to restore normality in a country hoping to join the EU in 2004.



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