Germans, Czechs on alert as floods spread

Germans, Czechs on alert as floods spread

PASSAU, Germany
Germans, Czechs on alert as floods spread

Rescue workers make their way through a street flooded by the river Elbe in eastern Germany. Czechs and Germans are on alert as floods move north. AFP photo

Tens of thousands of Germans, Hungarians and Czechs were evacuated from their homes yesterday as soldiers raced to pile up sandbags to hold back rising waters in the region’s worst floods in a decade.

The deluge has killed at least 12 people in central Europe since the weekend. Water started subsiding in Prague and Passau, but fears grew for Bratislava, Budapest and parts of Germany which forecasters say will be hit in the next few days.

About 1,000 people had to leave their homes in the baroque German city of Dresden, which was devastated by floods in 2002 when the Elbe burst its banks. Residents paddled up streets in boats as soldiers drove past in tanks.

“We are shocked by the pictures from the flood areas,” said German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler before a meeting with heads of industry groups to assess the damage. Roesler announced a ten-point plan to help reconstruction work and to help firms get credit from the state development bank.

Merkel vows aid to flood victims

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, facing an election in September, has promised 100 million euros in aid.
Czech emergency services said they had rescued 19,000 people and the government freed up 5.3 billion crowns ($270 million) from this year’s budget for flood repairs.