BUDAPEST, Hungary, June 9 (UPI) -- At least 23 people are dead and thousands were evacuated Sunday in Germany and Hungary amid some of the worst flooding ever in central Europe, authorities said.
Heavy rains across the region during the past week, combined with a wet spring, prompted the flooding and swelling of the Elbe and Danube rivers. High waters have receded in parts of Austria and the Czech Republic, but the swollen rivers are inundating Germany and Hungary downstream.
Approximately 23,000 people in the east German city of Magdeburg were evacuated as flood waters exceeded those of the country's so-called "flood of the century" in 2002, Britain's The Independent reported.
Other cities along the Elbe River, including Wittenberge and Lauenberg, will experience high water levels for days, and 10,000 residents were evacuated in Bitterfeld, the newspaper said.
At least 2,000 people were evacuated from the Danube village of Gyorujfalu, Hungary, when a dike threatened to burst. Budapest Mayor Istvan Tarlos ordered the evacuation of 215 people and said in the worst-case scenario, as many as 55,000 people in the capital may need to leave their homes.
Emergency crews are working to shore up barriers along the river in Budapest, but levees are bursting occasionally, allowing water to pour into the streets, The Budapest Times reported.
Tarlos urged people not to enter the Danube River because doing so would result in almost certain death, the Times said.
The Danube and Elbe rivers were expected to peak Sunday in Germany and Hungary.