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Czech floods force 2,700 from homes, threaten central Prague

Source: Reuters - Mon, 3 Jun 2013 08:49 GMT
Author: Reuters
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The statue of world harmony leader Sri Chinmoy is partially submerged in water from the rising Vltava river in Prague on June 2, 2013. Rivers across the Czech Republic are rising fast due to heavy rain. REUTERS/David W Cerny
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PRAGUE, June 3 (Reuters) - The worst floods to hit the Czech Republic in a decade forced the evacuation of almost 2,700 people from low-lying areas while the rising water threatened Prague's historic centre, forced school closures and disrupted public transport.

Czech police said at least five people had died in the flooding. Firefighters evacuated homes in western regions and in villages outside the capital on Sunday and Monday, rescuing 200 people.

Flooding was also reported in Austria and water levels rose in Germany and Poland after heavy rain in central Europe over the past week swelled rivers. At least one person died and two were missing in Austria near Salzburg.

The subway network in central Prague was halted on Monday due to the weather, for the first time since massive floods submerged the city in 2002 and caused billions of dollars of damage in the Czech Republic.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas declared a state of emergency for most of the nation on Sunday and pledged 300 million crowns ($15.11 million) for relief efforts.

Troops started putting anti-flood barriers in place in Prague and volunteers helped pile up sandbags in areas popular with tourists in the ancient centre. The landmark Charles Bridge was closed and workers evacuated parts of Prague zoo.

Levels on the Vltava river that cuts through Prague's centre continued to rise on Monday. A spokeswoman for the state river management company said the levels could peak in the afternoon likely at half the level recorded in 2002.

Meteorologists said the steady rains that have hit the country in the past week could ease in coming days, according to CTK news agency.

($1 = 19.8557 Czech crowns) (Reporting by Jason Hovet, Robert Muller and Jana Mlcochova; Editing by Michael Kahn and Pravin Char)

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