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Floods Kill 22 In Ukraine, Four In Romania


President Viktor Yushchenko (center) in the village of Poberezhya on July 27

President Viktor Yushchenko (center) in the village of Poberezhya on July 27

KYIV -- Floods in western Ukraine have killed 22 people, destroyed homes, farmland, and roads, and prompted the evacuation of 20,000 residents, officials have said.

Television footage showed President Viktor Yushchenko wading knee-deep through village streets, visiting devastated homes, and discussing action plans with local officials over the weekend.

Ukraine's cabinet was called into emergency session to discuss assistance and repair work. The National Security and Defense Council, chaired by the president, was also due to meet.

A senior government official at the weekend described the flooding as the worst in a century.

Water levels after five days of uninterrupted rain remained dangerously high on the Prut and Dniester rivers. More than 40,000 homes were flooded.

Television pictures showed homes with water creeping up to attic windows, roads washed away, and vast expanses of inundated farmland. At least six of the dead were children and two had been struck by lightning, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

In neighboring Romania, the Interior Ministry said four people died in floods in the northeastern county of Maramures and two were still missing.

Authorities said some of the region's 12,000 evacuated residents were returning to their homes as floodwaters receded.

However, officials said waters coming down from Ukraine could still cause considerable damage. More than 4,000 police and troops were reinforcing dams with sandbags and food was being distributed to residents.

Meteorologists forecast dry weather in both countries.
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