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PICS: Six dead, thousands evacuated in central Europe floods

Water levels in Germany on the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers have already surpassed records from previous heavy floods in 1954 and 2002.

A general view shows the flooded center of Passau, southern German (Matthias Schrader/AP)

THE CZECH CAPITAL Prague was on high flood alert today with businesses shut and transport coming to a halt after torrential rains left at least six people dead and forced thousands from their homes across central Europe.

Czech rescue crews were searching for four others believed to have died in the flooding which cut power to tens of thousands of households across the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany.

The heavy rainfall has triggered nightmarish memories of devastating floods that killed dozens in the region in 2002.

In the Czech Republic, the government declared a state of emergency Sunday, deploying 2,000 troops in its rescue drive as five people died, several were missing and over 6,000 evacuated from their homes, officials said.

“We register five people who have died in relation to the flood. We are also looking for another four people believed to have died because of the flooding,” police spokeswoman Pavla Kopecka told AFP, adding that the missing people were out in canoes.

Firemen build an anti-flood barrier on Luznice river in Bechyne, Czech Republi (David Veis/Czech News Agency/PA).

Two people died in a collapsed summer house south of Prague and three men drowned in rivers or drains in different parts of the country.

The Czech capital was under water today, with metro stations and schools shut as the Vltava river rose, flooding parts of the historic city centre.

“You realise here what nature can do. How helpless we really are despite having all our technology,” Prague pensioner Helena Holubova said, watching the water rise from a bridge over the Vltava in central Prague. The river was expected to peak in the capital later Monday.

“We are closed for now, we’ve moved the equipment out and we have 30-40 centimetresof water inside,” Nikol Voborilova who works in a Prague restaurant by the river told AFP.

Firemen build an anti-flood barrier on Luznice river in Bechyne, Czech Republic (David Veis/Czech News Agency/PA).

Thousands of households were hit with power outages while fallen trees snarled rail traffic across western regions.

Heavy rain was expected to pelt the country until Monday afternoon, when forecasts called for it to taper off.

Flooding also deluged neighbouring Germany and Austria, killing at least one person there.

Two were reported missing and hundreds were also evacuated as landslides threatened their homes, mostly around the western Austrian city of Salzburg bordering Germany and in the north.

Members of the red cross make their way by boats in the flooded street in the center of Passau, southern Germany (Matthias Schrader/AP).

Austrian authorities warned the Danube and the Inn rivers could surpass levels from 2002, when the country suffered its last major flooding which caused up to 7.5 billion euros ($9.8 billion) in damage.

Memories of the 2002 flood also spooked residents in the nearby German city of Passau.

“A lot of people who already had to cope with major flooding in 2002 are refusing to leave their homes,” Passau mayor Jurgen Duppen told Germany’s N24 TV channel.

Budapest and Bratislava were also bracing for the Danube river which snakes through both cities to peak today.

Zoo Prague flooded by swollen Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic (Katerina Sulova/Czech News Agency/PA).

Water levels in Germany on the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers have already surpassed records from previous heavy floods in 1954 and 2002.

“We’re in shock. We had to leave home in the blink of an eye,” a woman in the eastern German city of Dresden told the NTV channel.

She and her baby spent the night at a community centre, like thousands of others evacuated in the eastern region of Saxony.

Two people were reported missing in Germany since yesterday. Flooding increased today in the southern and eastern regions also forcing thousands out of their homes.

The army has been called in to help with the rescue efforts hampered by power outages.

A beergarden is flooded at the lake Chiemsee in Chieming near Traunstein, southern Germany (Matthias Schrader/AP).

- © AFP 2013.

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