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Floods Peak In Prague, But Worsen In Slovakia, Yugoslavia

Prague, 14 August 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Czech officials say flood waters in the capital Prague have reached their peak and will soon begin to recede, but other parts of Europe are preparing for the crisis to worsen. Anticipating major recovery efforts, Belgium offered to send troops and equipment, including pumps to clear flooded buildings, to the Czech Republic, where some 200,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes.

Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said the damage could have been much worse: "If a real catastrophe cannot be avoided, then competent people are able to act reasonably and decently, and the impact is a bit less. Few people realize just how little the loss of life and how few injured people there have been. No one can understand what that means. What it means is that decisions were made in time on evacuations."

Slovakia declared a state of emergency in the capital Bratislava, where the Danube river is rising quickly. The Danube is also threatening to flood parts of Yugoslavia as flood waves arrive later in the week.

Seven deaths have been reported in Germany, including drowning deaths in the Dresden area and a botched helicopter rescue attempt. The death toll from storms and flooding over the past week has risen to 94, with most of the casualties in Russia's Black Sea region.