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Czech Republic: Record River Levels Threaten Prague

Prague, 13 August 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Czechs are preparing for flood waters in the capital Prague to reach their peak this afternoon, but officials warn that the worst is yet to come in cities downstream. Interior Minister Stanislav Gross said today that Usti nad Labem in the country's north will face cresting river waters later today, and that emergency services are preparing for potential problems with industries, particularly chemical works, in nearby towns.

In Prague, where 40,000 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes, Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said that emergency legislation is in effect. "The [Czech] government has declared a state of emergency. This means that sufficient rescue staff are available, which I think is a great help. Then the damages will be analyzed and the so-called 'crisis law' will be followed."

Some 75 people have been reported dead in the past week of storms and floods in Europe and Russia, with most of the casualties in Russia's Black Sea region. Several dams have burst in the provinces of Upper Austria and Lower Austria, flooding villages, and parts of the German state of Bavaria are under a state of emergency. And violent storms in Romania today claimed three more lives.

For more on this story, please see Central Europe: Floods Ravage Region; Czech Capital Under State Of Emergency.