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Germany braces as flood waters surge north

9th Jun 2013

German emergency personnel have been battling some of the worst floods seen for a decade, as water continued to churn north. The German president is set to visit the affected areas on Sunday.

Thousands of residents in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt were ferried to safety as the Elbe river continued to rise on Saturday.

Authorities in Magdeburg evacuated homes for the elderly and turned off electricity in parts of the city. Particularly affected was an area of the city where the Saale river meets the Elbe, where some 3,000 people were forced to leave their homes.

The situation in the city was described as critical on Saturday afternoon, with flood defenses being put in place. Sandbags were also mounted against the rising waters in nearby towns such as Wittenberg.

Twenty people have died across Germany and central Europe as a result of the flooding and continued rainfall.

Water levels on the river have already been at record highs in the past days and have continued to rise further downriver. In the state of Lower Saxony, fears of further flooding remained as the river water moves seaward.

The premier of the state of Saxony-Anhalt, Reiner Haseloff, called upon other states to show solidarity and support for the flood-hit areas. “This is a national responsibility and the 16 states as well as the federal government must stick together,” said Haseloff.

German President Joachim Gauck was due to tour the region on Sunday. His visit will also include a church service in the city of Halle and a visit to a damaged child daycare center. Gauck was also set to speak to flood victims and helpers in the city of Meissen.

Some 70,000 emergency workers and a further 11,000 soldiers have been sent to the flood-affected areas.

Economic experts weighing up the cost of the flood damage have placed it at an estimated 11 billion euros ($14.5 million) for Germany alone.

Water levels were also high in Hungary and Slovakia, with water in the Danube expected to reach 8.8 meters (29 feet) in Budapest on Monday – a level more than double the usual height.

Some 2,000 people were evacuated from the Hungarian town of Gyorujfalu near the capital, Budapest on Saturday. In Slovakia, flood defenses were being put in place in river towns near the Hungarian border.

rc/jlw (AFP,AP)

http://www.dw.de/germany-braces-as-flood-waters-surge-north/a-16868494

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