Europe Flood Costs Mount

June 12, 2013; 8:24 AM ET
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Thousands of people fled their homes ahead of the surging Elbe River in northern Germany as catastrophic floods rolled onward.

At least 22 people have died, the AP website said on Tuesday, since torrential rains initiated catastrophic flooding at the end of May 2013.

The damage estimate rose to more than 11 billion euros, or about $14.5 billion, the AP said.

Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria have borne the brunt of the flooding casualties and damage. Slovakia and Hungary have also battled swollen rivers.

About 8,000 people left their homes Tuesday in Stendel, in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, the AP said. Sandbagging to close a levee breach up stream was being carried out by helicopter. Flood waters were pouring through the breach and into Fischbeck. Monday, levee failure at Fischbeck had prompted the evacuation of 10 villages along with the closing of a major rail line.

Farther downstream, the town of Lauenburg, Schleswig-Holstein, was bracing for the Elbe's flood crest, its old quarter having been evacuated.

Earlier, a dam burst in the Elbe River drove about 23,000 residents of Magdeburg, Germany, from their homes, the BBC News website said. The Elbe was reportedly falling from record levels Monday as its flood crest headed northward to the North Sea.

The Elbe flows past Hamburg on its way to the North Sea.

A view from Radobyl hill shows a highway and an exit to the village Mlekojedy flooded by the swollen river Elbe near Litomerice, 70 km (43 miles) northwest of Prague, taken on Wednesday, June 5, 2013. Heavy rainfalls caused flooding in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. (AP Photo/CTK, Radek Petrasek)

Meanwhile, it was the Danube River that kept officials and residents on edge in Hungary early this week. The flood crested at an all-time high level in Budapest on Sunday. The previous high, reached in 2006, was topped by about a foot, the AP said.

Monday, the Danube River flood crest continued heading southward in Hungary, although the river's wider channel was thought to lessen the threat of flooding, the AP indicated.

In the Czech Republic, river levels fell Monday, although there were thunderstorm-related incidents of flash flooding Sunday night, the AP said. The Czech flood death toll rose to 11 after the drowning of a Slovak man in Susice.

Following scattered early week downpours and local flash flooding, welcome mainly dry weather was forecast for the flood-hit areas through at least the end of the week, according to meteorologists.

Elsewhere in Europe, Poland, which was spared the worst of the earlier flooding, suffered localized flash flooding as cloudbursts hit the capital, Warsaw, on Sunday.

Late-week downpours also triggered flooding in northern Spain, especially in the province of Navarra, the AP said.


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