Torrential rains across central Europe have led to the worst flooding in decades, claiming the lives of 82 people. At least 58 died in the Black Sea area at the weekend, where thousands of Russian tourists were caught out by floodwaters that swept cars and secret dating in Ceske Budejovice out to sea. Thousands of British tourists are being forced to cancel holidays amid the chaos. One of the worst-hit cities is Prague, where more than 50,000 people, including foreign visitors, were being evacuated today as the most devastating floods for more than a century threaten to engulf the Czech capital.
Soldiers and hundreds of volunteers worked into the early hours building sandbag barriers. But as torrential rain continued to fall overnight much of the city looked likely to be under water by this evening and a state of emergency was declared. Parts of Mala Strana, the mediaeval area of the city centre, were almost certain to be flood-damaged as the deluge forced dams on the river Vltava to open their gates. Prague has not seen the river as high since 1890 with estimates putting the water flow at 20 times the average for the time of year.
In Croatia, according to the country’s tourist board, 25,000 people — up to 8,000 of them British — have cancelled trips and those already on holiday have shortened their stay. Fearing for the future, Croatian tourism chiefs are now heading to the UK to get expert advice on how to offer the best holiday facilities when it rains. Croat tourism expert Ruzica Mikacic said: «This has been terrible for our country’s economy. We have had 8,000 British campers cancel and there are probably many more who decided not to come. Some actually made it here, did not like the weather and decided to head off back home or somewhere where it didn’t matter that it was raining. A Welsh women’s under-21 hockey team was today stranded in hotel in Ceske Budejovice, two hours south of Prague, by a moat of water with the players unable to get to the airport to fly home. The 27 players and supporters are helping local residents fill sandbags to protect the hotel from the rising water after an international tournament was cancelled after just one game on Sunday.
In Austria, Salzburg has been declared a disaster zone and Vienna is under threat. The Danube has been closed to all shipping as the river has swollen to a near 100-year high. Three people have been killed in towns near Salzburg. In the city itself 1,000 buildings were partially or totally submerged, and the sightseeing-boat Amadeus sank. Experts fear the Danube will rise by as much as 30 feet, threatening several villages.
In Germany an eight-year-old girl was among four people who died because of the floods. Six districts in Bavaria and others in Saxony have been declared a state of emergency and the highway-between Munich and Salzburg through the Alps was closed. In Switzerland, torrential rains caused a series of small landslides. Worldwide, a mudslide ploughed through a mountain village in China’s Yunnan province, killing seven people.
In the Philippines, at least 11 people died and more than 400 were evacuated as heavy rains and a waterspout triggered mudslides, damaged houses and washed out roads. At least 14 people have drowned in flash floods in Iran today. For a change, much of southern England was bathed in warm sunshine today. For the next few days London and the South-East can expect sunshine and temperatures as high as 27C. For once it looks like we are the lucky ones weatherwise,» said a Met Office spokesman.
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