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Poland: Parliament Approves Flood Funding; More Rain Expected

Warsaw, 17 July 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The Polish parliament's lower house adopted an emergency aid program today which will provide funds for southern and western areas of the country affected by recent flooding.

Legislators amended this year's state budget to allow the government to borrow 5,000 million zloty ($1.5 billion) from the Central Bank and a further $300 million from the World Bank. In addition, an aid program was passed to allow families affected by flooding access to free medicines and low-interest loans for reconstruction.

Poland's Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz says that latest weather forecasts indicate new rain storms in the Czech Republic and Poland may bring more flooding to the south of Poland.

Cimoszewicz told the Polish parliament today that meteorological experts predict the rains over the next three days and that "we must expect the possiblity ... of another wave of floods."

More than 80 people are reported to have lost their lives as a result of the flooding in Poland and the Czech Republic. In eastern Germany, a flood swell on the river Oder (Odra in Poland) is nearing the city of Frankfurt/Oder.

Our correspondent reports that Warsaw has already asked Sweden and Germany for additional rescue equipment. The Ukrainian government has dispatched some 600 Ukrainian rescue workers to Poland.

In the Czech Republic today, officials released water from several dams in expectation of more downpours. Czech Finance Minister Ivan Pilip said Prague is considering taking out a loan of more than 10,000 million crowns ($330 million) from the European Investment Bank to fund reconstruction.

Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus today announced that those who lost homes in the floods will receive some $4,400 in immediate aid and be eligible to receive preferential loans for new home building.

Klaus said it's not yet clear how many houses have been lost in the flooding. The governemnt also released a further $300,000 in aid to each of the 24 counties hit by the inundation, and named a special reconstruction commission.

Czech weather experts said today that heavy rain is expected in the flood-hit north and east of the country. Reuters quotes hydrologist Libor Elleder as saying heavy rains could occur over the next two days, causing water levels in rivers to rise.