Listen to the report by Stefan Bos: VatiFloodUpdate
Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– The Danube River has spilled over its banks in Budapest, claiming the Hungarian capital as the latest victim of record floods in Central and Eastern Europe that has killed at least 21 people.
Authorities are still trying to prevent large scale flooding here. But one of Europe’s main waterways has already reached nearly nine meters in Budapest, just 30 centimeters below the highest flood defenses in this city of some 1.8 million people.
Near Bathany Square, the Danube moves through sandbags and police have cordoned off the area. Hotels were evacuated on nearby Margaret Island; several roads and homes are under water.
For local resident 67-year-old Ferenc Braustatart, it’s difficult to watch.
“I planned to do my usual morning walk, but was shocked to see the rising water,” he said. While looking at the river and flooded embankments, he concluded: “I don’t think I will ever see this again for the rest of my life.”
In Hungary, more than 2,000 people from 34 towns and villages have been forced to leave their homes and 44 roads have been closed due to the floods.
There have been complaints, even from within the police, that the government is relying too much on up to eight million sandbags, but have not done enough to improve infrastructure.
One policeman even accused politicians of using the money spent on sandbags to add to their own bank accounts.
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán planned to ask Parliament to extend the state of emergency amid concerns that rain expected in the next few days will add to more misery.
Orbán was to meet legislators in the Parliament building, where the Danube seems to have reached the staircases.
Hungary has anxiously watched massive flooding in other central European nations as an unusually wet spring has swollen the Danube, the Elbe and several of their tributaries across Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Hungary.
It has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people, disrupting rail and road traffic, and causing damage that preliminary estimates have predicted will reach several billion dollars.
In the eastern German city of Magdeburg, the Elbe rose faster and higher than expected to nearly seven and a half meters, prompting the evacuation of more than 23,000 people.
In Hungary, some 7,000 soldiers, supported by several thousand volunteers, try to reinforce dikes along the river, though several thousand people have been forced to leave their homes.
This could not have come at a worse time for Hungary, which is also struggling to keep its economy afloat and prevent more international bailouts.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).
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