BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Europe  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 20 August, 2002, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Goodbye to Karlin
Young people gaze at the remains of three fallen buildings
Rubble: Three buildings in Karlin collapsed
BBC journalist Michal Ruzicka was one of thousands evacuated from the Prague suburb of Karlin as floods loomed last week. It may be a long time before he is able to go back.

This flood has turned out to be far, far worse than Michal imagined.

Michal Ruzicka
Michal has lost 80% of his library
When he and his family left their apartment in Karlin on Tuesday last week, they were expecting to return within days.

Michal was hoping against hope that his collection of 2,000 or 3,000 books would survive.

Six days later, he has been allowed to see inside his home for only 20 minutes, and has learned that his move back there could be indefinitely postponed.

Subsidence

When he opened the door, he was shocked by what he saw.

"It is a mess. Things have been scattered all over the floor, and everything is covered in mud," he says.

Teddy bear lying on a muddy street
Mud: Karlin is a mess, says Michal
"We had 180 centimetres (six feet) of water, so only a small number of books above that level have survived."

And that's not all. Three buildings in Karlin collapsed because of the flood, and two police cars have sunk into holes that opened up in the street.

It's quite possible that other buildings will now be declared unsafe, and that nobody will be allowed home permanently until geological tests have been carried out.

Emptiness

If buildings do need to have their foundations reinforced, the work could take a year or more to complete, Michal believes.


There is a terrible smell from the market, where meat and milk and other goods are rotting

Michal Ruzicka
Karlin was home to 20,000 people until last week, but is now cordoned off by police and soldiers.

Every day, angry residents gather at the police lines, pleading to be allowed back to their flats.

Some, who were moved into schools immediately after the evacuation, are now living in students' halls of residence. Michal is still with his parents.

"The district is completely empty," says Michal, desribing how he found it during his brief visit on Saturday.

Metro flooded

"There is almost no noise, but there is a terrible smell from the market, where meat and milk and other goods are rotting."

Map of Prague
Michal has been told he may be allowed home again briefly this Friday, but he will have to travel on foot, because cars are barred from streets liable to subsidence.

The metro is not an option, because it too is flooded. Some 10 stations are closed.

Michal will rescue some documents, and some pictures and prints, which he carefully stored the night before the flood.

Whatever fate awaits his neighbours, it will be a long time before Michal lives in his Karlin apartment again.

In less than a month he and his family will be leaving Prague to spend a year in London - and there is next to no chance of moving back in before then.


European havoc

Germany ravaged

Prague drama

Freak phenomenon?

FORUM

TALKING POINT
See also:

13 Aug 02 | Europe
13 Aug 02 | Europe
13 Aug 02 | Europe
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes