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Germany pledges $130m to help flood victims

Chancellor Angela Merkel promises emergency aid as floods in across central Europe claim at least 12 lives.

Last Modified: 05 Jun 2013 11:51
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At least 12 people have been killed in central Europe as floodwater inundates large areas of Germany, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Thousands of soldiers have been deployed to help towns and cities in the flood-hit region.

Several others remain missing after torrential rains, and floodwater that peaked in Prague, the Czech capital, was heading towards Germany, officials said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged $130m in emergency aid for flood-ravaged areas of Germany on Tuesday, as the swelling waters forced thousands of people from their homes.

Merkel, visiting the flooded southern city of Passau, said the emergency cash would be disbursed in an "unbureaucratic" way because "what's important now is that the aid quickly reaches the people".

"I have talked to citizens who have started the clean-up and I realise it will take several more weeks," she said.

"The damage and the loss of income is a long-term matter. And that's why our support will not cease."

Slovakia

Emergency services have continued to work around the clock trying to evacuate residents from the Slovak village of Krivousy that has been hit by thr widespread flooding.

Despite being forced to wade through knee-deep floodwaters, some residents still refused to leave their homes on Tuesday.

Krivousy, which is located 30km north of Prague, was flooded by the river Elbe.

Jiri Kris, head fireman for Vojkovice village, said due to the continuous work that he and his team had not "slept for 40 hours" in a bid to ensure the safety and well being of village residents.

Kris also noted that several locals were refusing to leave the flooded region.

"Today it [flooding] started again. People who didn't want to leave their houses, who didn't want to evacuate, realised they had no drinking water," said.

Speaking on Wednesday, Everton Fox, an Al Jazeera meteorologist, said: The heaviest and steadiest rain has now gone, but there will see a few more showers over the next few days. These are creeping east.

"The flooding was worsened by the long cold winter and a significant part of the flooding is due to snow melting as well as the heavy rain of the past two weeks which became blocked over central Europe due to a large are of high pressure over western Russia."

Record-high waters

Waters in Passau peaked late on Monday at 12.89 metres, the highest since 1501.

Floods have deluged Prague's centre [Reuters]

Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer, reporting from Passau, said the situation would worsen as the waters flowed through Germany.

"The sense is that while things are getting better here, they are bound to get worse elsewhere in Germany as the water moves westward," he said.

German defence forces said they had deployed 4,000 troops for disaster relief in four states, securing dykes with sandbags, providing food, shelter and clothes for displaced people and observing water-logged areas from helicopters.

In the Czech Republic, floods have deluged Prague's historic centre, damaging businesses and forcing a chaotic night time evacuation of the city's zoo.

Al Jazeera's Rory Challands, reporting from Prague where water levels are beginning to subside on the swollen Vltava River, said the rain had stopped on Tuesday, giving citizens some hope.

"There is a feeling that maybe the worst is over for Prague, as long as the weather holds out and does not go back to the rain storms that have created all this," he said.

Receding water level

Petr Dvorak, a spokesman for the Czech Hydrometeorogical Institute, said on Tuesday that waters would soon reach Usti and Labern, about 30km from the German border.

Defences to protect historic Prague

"The last victim [in the Czech Republic] was a lady who was walking her dog in a park on Monday evening and who died under an eroded tree that fell on her," police spokeswoman Pavla Kopecka said.

Dvorak said the waters would recede in the western part of the Czech Republic on Wednesday.

"There will be heavier rain in the east of the country and some rivers there will rise high, but the extent should be lower than here," he added.

In Hungary, 400 people were reported to be working on flood defences in the capital Budapest, which is built on the banks of the Danube.

Central Europe last suffered similar serious flooding in 2002, which caused billions of dollars of damage and killed dozens, including 17 in the Czech Republic.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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