The Guardian

Volunteers piled up sandbags in an effort to keep the Vltava river from swamping the Czech capital's historic centre after floods across central Europe forced factories to close and drove thousands from their homes. At least seven people have been killed.

Five people were killed at the weekend in the Czech Republic, where the flooding was the worst in a decade and a state of emergency was declared, while in Austria two people died and another two were missing.

Officials in Prague, which is listed by the UN as a World Heritage Site, shut the metro system, and in streets near the river soldiers put up flood defences.

Tigers at Prague zoo were tranquilised and moved out of an enclosure at risk from flooding. The Charles bridge, a favourite spot for tourists that dates back to the 14th century, was closed.

Officials hoped the flood defences in Prague should hold, but said the river level was likely to rise again on Tuesday morning. "The story is not yet over here," said the environment minister, Tomáš Chalupa.

Tree trunks floated by in the muddy brown water. A riverside path, usually populated with cyclists and people sitting at cafes, was under water on Monday.

"We left England yesterday and it was sunny and warm. We didn't expect this; we don't even have our raincoats," said a British tourist, Alison Tadman, who came to Prague with her husband, Adrian, to celebrate her 47th birthday. She and her husband were sheltering in a McDonald's restaurant. "We're pretty disappointed," she said.

Some of the worst flooding was around the Danube river, which starts in German and snakes its way through countries including Austria, Slovakia and Hungary on its way to the Black Sea. The river was swollen by heavy rain at the weekend.

In Germany, the interior minister flew to the flood-hit regions on Monday and the chancellor, Angela Merkel, was preparing to go on Tuesday, a government spokesman said.

Shipping was stopped on parts of the Danube and Rhine rivers in Germany, and along the whole Austrian stretch of the Danube, because of the high waters. The rivers are important arteries for moving grain, coal and other commodities.

Thousands of people living in low-lying areas in Austria and the Czech Republic had to be evacuated from their homes.

The death toll in Austria rose on Monday after a man listed as missing was found dead in the province of Vorarlberg, local police said. The 58-year-old had failed to return home from a party on Saturday.

In the Austrian city of Salzburg, 160 passengers were put up overnight in army barracks after the floods stranded their train. The Austrian foreign minister, Michael Spindelegger, told reporters the situation in some areas was very fraught.

The risk on Monday was that the flood danger could follow the course of the Danube river downstream to other European countries along its route.

Workers put up flood barriers along the banks of the Danube where it passes through the Slovak capital, Bratislava, and police shut several roads.

"We are getting bad news from Germany and Austria. We have to do all we can to protect ... the capital," the Slovak prime minister, Robert Fico, said.

In Hungary, where the capital, Budapest, is also built on the banks of the Danube, state media quoted György Bakondi, head of the national disaster authority, as saying that 400 people were working on flood defences.

He said water levels in the river could reach or even exceed the height seen in the record flooding of 2002.

 

army barrack

armádní kasárna

bank

břeh (řeky)

death toll

počet obětí, ztráty na životech

enclosure

oplocený výběh

float

plavat, vznášet se (na hladině)

flood defence

protipovodňová zábrana

fraught

napjatý, náročný

grain

obilí

national disaster authority

přibl.: národní úřad pro prevenci katastrof

pile up

nakupit, nahromadit

sandbag

pytel s pískem

shelter

ukrýt se (pod střechou)

snake

vinout se

state of emergency

stav ohrožení

strand

uvěznit, zablokovat

stretch

úsek

swamp

zaplavit, zatopit

swell (swelled, swollen)

vzdouvat se

Tree trunk

kmen stromu

World Heritage Site

památka světového dědictví

 

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