Flood alerts in Hungary, Germany as rivers surge again

FLOOD warnings were still in place last night as both the rivers Elbe and Danube again threatened to burst their banks.

Firefighters row their boat on a flooded street in Stadt Wehlen, eastern Germany. Picture: AP

An alert was in place in parts of Hungary, including capital Budapest, as the Danube reached its flood-swollen crest, while communities along the Elbe in Germany were braced for high water as the river churned towards the North Sea.

Elsewhere in central Europe, communities were beginning to count the cost of devastating floods that have hit Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic.

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At least 19 people have died in the past week, and experts say the economic damage in Germany alone could top €11 billion (£9.3bn).

The Danube’s crest has left Austria and entered Hungary, where prime minister Viktor Orban warned that water levels were above all-time highs.

“It is now certain we must face the largest-ever flood on the Danube, so we must be prepared for the worst,” he said in the western city of Gyor, on the Danube.

The Danube crest was expected to reach Budapest on Monday, and mayor Istvan Tarlos said that in a worst-case scenario up to 55,000 people may need to be evacuated. But he was confident that only the lowest-lying areas of the city would be exposed to the Danube’s expanded flow.

Mr Tarlos said the Danube was expected to rise by almost nine metres in the downtown area, just a third of a metre less than the height of existing flood defences.

In neighbouring Slovakia, emergency workers were battling to reinforce river defences in the border city of Komarno.