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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 August 2005, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
Floods cause havoc across Europe
Whole areas are under water

Torrential rains have caused havoc across central and eastern Europe, killing up to 36 people.

Worst affected is Romania where at least seven elderly people were killed overnight, bringing deaths there to 25.

At least 11 people are reported dead or missing in Switzerland, Austria and Germany where emergency services are struggling to restore basic services.

Thousands of people have been forced to abandon their homes in recent days. Many are still unable to return.

The elderly Romanians were swept away by swollen rivers , AFP news agency reported.

Floods inundated about 1,400 houses in central parts of the country.

Elsewhere in Europe:

  • In Bavaria, some flood defences have collapsed, allowing water to flood through streets and into homes; authorities evacuated patients at the city of Neu-Ulm after the Danube burst its banks

    It will get worse before it gets better
    Franz Maerki
    Swiss official

  • In Bulgaria, where floods have killed at least 20 people and left 14,000 homeless over the past three months, torrential rains flooded the north-western region of Montana

  • In Moldova torrential rain has damaged homes and other property near the capital Chisinau

  • Torrential rain in Slovenia has washed out roads in several towns in central and eastern districts. Croatia has declared a state of emergency along the Mura river, on the border with Slovenia, where it is shoring up flood defences.

Helicopter rescue

At least four people have died and two are missing in Switzerland, where floods have affected an area stretching from the Bernese Alps to St Gallen in the north-east.

Many Alpine valleys in Bavaria and Austria have also been under water.

Reader's before and after images of a swollen river, Switzerland

More than 1,000 Swiss have been evacuated, along with hundreds more in Austria and Germany.

In the Swiss capital Bern, the River Aare burst its banks flooding parts of the historic old town.

Parts of the resorts of Lucerne and Interlaken were also flooded. Many popular mountain holiday villages have been completely cut off.

The authorities were using helicopters to rescue people from roofs and balconies as rising waters and strong currents made the use of boats risky.

Mudslides have blocked roads and railway tracks.

And the forecast was not good.

"It will get worse before it gets better," police spokesman Franz Maerki said.

Shock

In Austria, floods caused chaos in the west of the country, leaving three people dead and one missing.

But rain stopped overnight and an interior ministry spokesman said: "The worst is over."

About 17,000 firefighters helped by soldiers are involved in the rescue and repair work.

Lechtal Valley in Tirol and the Kleinwalsertal Valley in Vorarlberg have been particularly badly affected.

Water rose up to five metres outside the house of Ernst Cavegn.

"I grew up in this house. My parents built it when I was three years old, and now everything is destroyed," the Associated Press news agency quoted him as saying.

"My wife is in shock. She won't say a word."





BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See people being airlifted to safety by helicopter




SEE ALSO:
Flood crisis hits Bulgaria hard
24 Aug 05 |  Europe
Floods leave 16 dead in Romania
22 Aug 05 |  Europe
In pictures: Romania floods
22 Aug 05 |  In Pictures
Country profile: Switzerland
07 Jun 05 |  Country profiles


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