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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
PRAGUE/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)– Thousands of people have been evacuated in Central and Eastern Europe where flooding and heavy rainfall has left at least a dozen people dead or missing.
Rescue workers and soldiers desperately tried to protect millions of people in especially Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, but the raging water still managed to inundate areas across the region.
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Farmotel Stefania is on the way to Slovenian and Croatian Adriatic sea coast.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas even declared a state of emergency for most of the nation, as swollen rivers caused by days of heavy rain threatened Prague’s historic centre and forced evacuations of as many as 7,000 people from low-lying areas, including in the western and southern Bohemia regions.
Police said however that at least five people drowned, while a sixth person, an electrician, was killed while trying to disconnect a transformer that had been flooded.
In Prague, authorities shut down subway stations and troops erected flood barriers to protect the Czech capital’s historic center from the swelling Vltava River.
But a statue of world harmony leader Sri Chinmoy was partly submerged by water, and several other areas of this city of 1.3 million people were inundated. Patients were hastily evacuated from a Prague hospital, explained medical doctor Vladimir Jurina.
“We are now starting the evacuation of patients who need emergency vehicles. They will be moved into various hospitals, where they will have full care,” he said
Animals were also rescued, including tigers, from the partly flooded Prague Zoo.”We are evacuating the animals as we are afraid that the water will drown the animals,” explained Zoo Director Jaroslav Simek.
Residents recalled floods in 2002 that killed 17 people, forced tens of thousands from their homes, drowned animals of the city’s Zoo and caused several billion dollars of damage across Prague alone.
Following that disaster, the Czech government spent $150 million to install an anti-flooding system, but it remained unclear Sunday, June 2, whether enough had been done to prevent another catastrophe.
In neighboring Germany, where at least two people died, states of emergency were declared and evacuations ordered as overflowing rivers flooded roads in the eastern state of Saxony, as well Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg in the south. And shipping came to a halt on the Rhine river.
Roads and railway lines were either flooded or made impassable by landslides in Austria, where at least one rescue worker died, and in Switzerland.
Flooding was also feared in nearby Hungary, where some parts of Budapest were inundated and more troubles were expected Tuesday.
Additionally, southwestern Poland is suffering. Several towns and villages have already been evacuated in that area, at a time of concern about ailing infrastructure in especially Eastern Europe.
(BosNewsLife’s NEWS WATCH is a regular look at key general news developments from especially, but not limited to, (former) Communist countries and other autocratic states impacting the Church and/or other compassionate professionals).
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