MUNICH — Thousands of people have fled their homes across central Europe as deadly flood waters continue to rise.
Emergency operations are under way in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic to deal with record levels of flooding in some places.
Landslides and flooding have led to the deaths of at least six people. At least eight people are missing.
In Germany, more than 7,000 people have been moved from their homes in the town of Eilenburg, reports say.
The Czech capital, Prague, is on high alert amid fears that floodwater could swamp its historic centre.
Around 3,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in the capital and the surrounding region, Radio Prague reports. Animals from Prague’s zoo have also been moved.
Underground stations have been closed and schools shut as Prague officials wait and see whether the Vltava River will flood its banks.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas called a special cabinet session on Sunday to co-ordinate the emergency response, and around 1,000 troops were mobilised to help erect metal barriers and fill sandbags.
“We will do everything to protect people’s lives and health,” he said. “Tonight and tomorrow will be critical.”
Prague is hoping that the defences it installed after devastating floods in 2002 will work.
At risk is the 14th Century Charles Bridge and other historic buildings close to the river bank, he says.
Main roads in many areas of central Europe have been closed and rail services cut. In some areas, electricity has been turned off as a precaution.
Czech police said today that at least five people were now known to have died due to the flooding. Two people died after their cottage collapsed on Sunday, and three people had died in separate incidents across Bohemia. Several people are missing.
In Austria, the meteorological service said two months of rain had fallen in just two days.
A man was found dead near Salzburg after being swept away as he worked to clear a landslip, and three further people are missing.
More than 300 people were moved from their homes in Salzburg and the neighbouring Tyrol as the army worked with the civil authorities to clear landslides and make roads passable. Parts of the Pinzgau region, which includes Taxenbach, have been declared a disaster zone.
In Germany, Bavaria’s flood alert service has warned that the forecast of continuing heavy rain is likely to worsen the flooding affecting the Danube and the Inn, among other rivers in the area.
The German cities of Passau and Rosenheim have declared a state of emergency.
Authorities in Passau, which lies at the confluence of three rivers in Bavaria, said waters had risen to record levels.
Towns and cities in Saxony, Thuringia and Baden-Wuerttemberg have also been inundated by flooding, and the army has been deployed to help with the emergency effort.
In northern Saxony, water levels on the River Mulde were said to be particularly high.
A large area of Eilenburg north-east of Leipzig was evacuated, reports said, with 7,000 people being taken to emergency shelters.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has discussed the floods in phone-calls with the premiers of Bavaria and Saxony, the paper says. (BBC)