Germany braces for more flooding; waters recede in Czech Republic

June 4, 2013 at 8:49 AM
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BERLIN, June 4 (UPI) -- Cities in southern and eastern Germany were braced for potential flooding from rain-swollen rivers Tuesday as the threat of flooding fell in the Czech Republic.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised about $130 million in emergency aid for flood-hit areas of her country, the BBC reported.

Merkel scheduled a visit to the hardest hit regions Tuesday, flying over Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia by helicopter.

The city of Regensburg declared a state of emergency while in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, which includes flood-threatened Dresden, officials were warning that water levels could exceed those in the record 2002 floods.

Evacuations have taken place in Saxony.

At least nine people -- seven in the Czech Republic and two in Austria -- died since flooding inundated central Europe.

Meanwhile, river levels in Prague have begun to recede, Czech authorities said, as floodwaters move north. Overnight, flood barriers on the Vltava River in southern Czech Republic were raised to release water.

Prague Acting Mayor Tomas Hudecek said the flooding situation in the capital has stabilized, Radio Prague reported. However, he said the city would remain on high alert and much of its underground transit system would remain closed.

A nationwide state of emergency is still in effect in the Czech Republic as water levels were expected to peak in the north late Tuesday, Radio Prague said.

About 3,000 people were evacuated from their homes in the Republic's western areas.

The Charles Bridge, a favorite tourist destination in Prague, was closed and tigers at the city's zoo were tranquilized and moved from an enclosure officials said they believed was at risk of being flooded.

In Austria, the weather service said two months' worth of rain had fallen in two days, the BBC reported.

More than 300 people were moved from their homes in Salzburg and the neighboring Tyrol region as the Austrian army and civil crews cleared landslides to make roads passable. Parts of the Pinzgau region have been declared a disaster zone.

Shipping was stopped on parts of the Danube and Rhine rivers in Germany, and the entire length of the Danube in Austria.

Main roads in many areas of central Europe were closed and rail service cut. Power was out for thousands of homes.

The European Union said it is prepared to help countries tackle the floods.

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico warned of the risk of flooding as water moved down the Danube, which flows through Bratislava.

"We are getting bad news from Germany and Austria," Fico said. "We have to do all we can to protect ... the capital."

The head of Hungary's National Disaster Authority, Gyorgy Bakondi, said 400 people were working on flood defenses in Budapest.

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