Floods hit central Europe, 14 dead

Floods caused by torrential rain leave several missing in central Europe.

Updated: Aug 09, 2010, 09:28 AM IST

Goerlitz: Floods caused by torrential rain left 14 people dead and several others missing in central Europe over the weekend, with residents rescued from rising waters in boats, buses and helicopters.

While rivers burst their banks and dykes were breached in Poland, Germany the Czech Republic and Lithuania, in western Europe about 500 firefighters tackled wildfires in Portugal.

Three people drowned in southwestern Poland, near the border with Germany and the Czech Republic, Polish Interior Minister Jerzy Miller told reporters on Sunday.

A woman drowned in the town of Bogatynia, which was heavily damaged by a river that burst its banks yesterday, forcing 700 people to leave their homes, Polish firefighters` spokesman Pawel Fratczak said.

Another woman drowned in the same region, where a 55-year-old fireman was also swept away when a dyke burst, he added.

A burst dam sent a flood wave down the Neisse River separating Germany from Poland, putting parts of the twin cities of Zgorzelec-Goerlitz on the German-Polish border underwater.

"The flood wave hit the town in a few hours. We couldn`t do anything to get ready for that," Goerlitz Mayor Michael Wieler told Germany`s N24 TV channel, saying that the river rose by several metres in the space of a few hours.

The Neisse reached a height of 7.07 metres in Goerlitz -- more than three times its normal level and the highest since record-keeping began in 1912.

German police said nearly 1,500 people including the residents of two homes for elderly people had been evacuated in the same region in boats, buses and helicopters.

Some 1,700 rescue workers fanned out across the region to help those stranded.