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Last Updated: Friday, 26 August 2005, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Europe counts cost of flood chaos
Brienz damage
The cost of the floods will run into hundreds of millions of pounds
Cities and towns across central Europe remain on alert as they deal with the impact of devastating floods which have killed at least 42 people.

Evacuations from Alpine towns in Switzerland have been continuing, with hundreds taken to safety in Brienz.

The Swiss capital Bern has also been hard hit by the flood water - with fears of further problems later.

Insurers say the economic cost of the flood in Switzerland alone could be 1bn Swiss Francs (440m; 640m euros).

Elsewhere in Europe, residents face a massive clean-up task as they return home.

Forecasters warn there is still rain ahead, but it has eased in many places.

Romania is one of the countries worst affected. Seven elderly people were killed there on Wednesday, bringing the death toll to 31.

Around 2,000 people have been taken to safety from their homes, but flood waters are expected to start receding.

Where the flood waters have receded, the clean up begins

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

At least six have been left dead or missing in Switzerland - two killed by a landslide in Brienz earlier this week.

Evacuations from the town continued on Friday, with 400 people taken from the area after fears of another landslide, according to the AFP news agency.

Residents have not been allowed back to their homes in the worst-hit parts of Bern. The authorities fear water from blockages upstream could be unleashed on areas where water is starting to recede.

Clean-up

Bern police spokesman Franz Maerki said moderate rain was expected at the weekend but the worst of it was over.

"The phase of rescue is now over. The clean-up has now begun," he told Reuters.
Romania damage
Romania has been hit severely, with at least 31 dead

Swiss Reinsurance, the world's second-largest reinsurer, told the BBC News website that economic losses were estimated to be higher than insured losses (expected to be around 500m Swiss Francs).

This was because infrastructure had been affected - such as roads, railways and streets, he said. He added that the Swiss themselves tended to be well insured for their own property, which is why that figure is so high.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder visited flood-stricken Bavaria on Thursday. He insisted his trip - ahead of September elections - had been planned before the crisis.

He promised that transport links damaged by the floods would be rebuilt "more quickly than has been the case in the past".

"We want to send a clear signal to those affected," he told the people of Augsburg.

Three years ago, his handling of Germany's massive floods was said to have helped his victory in the 2002 elections.

Elsewhere in Europe:

  • Slovenia: Levels of the River Mura are dropping but residents along the river have been left with a massive clean-up task. A 59-year-old man died after slipping into the river near the Croatian border, Radio Slovenia reported.

  • Bulgaria: Railways and roads have been left severely damaged by the floods and the government has asked the European Union for financial support.

  • Croatia: The authorities declared a state of emergency on Wednesday in two regions hardest hit by the floods. Dozens of homes on the banks of the Mura have been evacuated.





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