Central Europe Floods

June 4, 2013 by  

Central Europe Floods, Tigers and other animals had to be evacuated from Prague’s zoo overnight as flooding sparked by days of torrential rain threatened the historic Czech capital.

Two months worth of rain in just a few days has left at least eight people dead and driven thousands from their homes across parts of central Europe.

Torrential rain has swept across the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany, with rising waters also affecting Slovakia, Hungary and Poland.

The flooding caused chaos at Prague Zoo, where around 1,000 animals were moved to higher ground. Zookeepers had to tranquilise tigers and other large animals in a dramatic overnight operation.

“It’s a terrifying feeling to experience this all over again,” Petr Velensky, the zoo’s reptile specialist, said.

Officials in Prague say they do not anticipate the swollen Vltava river – which runs through the historic World Heritage listed city – to reach 2002 levels, when similar floods killed 27 people.

The city’s flood defences are expected to hold, but the Vltava river level is likely to rise again on Tuesday morning.

“The story is not yet over here,” environment minister Tomas Chalupa said.

The Czech government declared a state of emergency on Sunday, deploying 2,000 troops in its rescue drive as more than 8,000 people were evacuated from their homes, officials said.

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

How her government responds to the emergency could have some bearing on the outcome of a nationwide election in September.

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 grains, coals and other commodities.

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