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Poland/Czech Republic: Flood Water Recedes, Death Toll Rises to 45

Prague, 11 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - Czech emergency officials say the death toll after nearly a week of floods stands at 22 while officials in neighboring Poland say at least 23 Poles have been killed in the floods. Rescue officials in both countries say they expect the number of victims to rise as the waters recede.

Flood waters are subsiding on both sides of the Czech-Polish border but are still inundating some towns in souhern Moravia and causing oil spills in Ostrava.

The Polish government faces media and opposition criticism for its response to the tragedy and for refusing to declare a state of emergency in the affected regions. Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz initially said the state budget reserves are so low that none could be spared for flood relief. Nevertheless, Cimoszewicz later promised 500 million Zloty -- about 160 million dollars in aid to the victims.

The public in both Poland and the Czech Republic have been quick to respond to appeals for donations of food, water, clothing and money.

The lower house of the Czech parliament today allocated $330 million in flood relief, largely from the proceeds of small-scale privatization and from a new issue of state bonds.

US President Bill Clinton, speaking with Polish Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz in Warsaw last night, offered American help for the flood victims. Polish Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati says Clinton pledged 100,000 dollars to help Polish victims of the floods. Rosati says Clinton is very sensitive to what he terms "this drama" and is ready to donate more if the situation demands.