Floods hit Netherlands

Police and military personnel evacuated 800 people from four villages in the low-lying northern Netherlands yesterday amid fears of a dike break following days of torrential rains.

Authorities said that a section of the dike along a major canal could give way and submerge hundreds of acres of land under up to 1.5 metres of water.

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Dozens of villagers and troops spent hours Thursday night piling sandbags on top of plastic sheets in an attempt to strengthen and waterproof the dike. The local water authority said the emergency repairs had stabilised the situation after water had begun seeping through the dike overnight.

The Defense Ministry also said an F-16 fighter jet equipped with a special camera would fly over the region to monitor the state of the dikes.

The evacuations 200 kilometres (125 miles) north of Amsterdam come after a combination of torrential rain and powerful northwesterly winds have soaked the country and prevented water being pumped into the sea.