Rare, deadly tornado leaves devastation behind in Czech Republic
A tornado caused widespread destruction in the South Moravian Region of the Czech Republic on June 24. According to rescue teams, more than 100 people were injured across several villages.
Recovery and clean-up efforts were underway in the Czech Republic Friday, one day after the nation was struck by a deadly severe weather outbreak that generated what could be the most powerful tornado in the recorded history of the country.
The focus of the damage was centered around the South Moravia region in the southern portion of the central European country where thousands of homes were damaged and hundreds were injured, according to Reuters. The Associated Press reported Friday that as many as five fatalities had occurred.
The number of casualties rose to six after an additional death was confirmed by Veronika Plachá, a spokeswoman for University Hospital Brno, on Sunday.
"The tornado outbreak yesterday was part of a bigger severe weather outbreak that occurred across southeastern Germany, into central Poland and the Czech Republic," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Tyler Roys.
Some of the worst tornado damage was reported around the city of Hodonin and nearby villages.
One tornado pushed through the southeastern portion of the Czech Republic, in what is being called a "rare" event. Czech TV meteorologists were estimating the tornado produced 206-mph winds (332 kph), which would make it the strongest in the country's modern history, and the first tornado in the country since 2018, according to Reuters.
According to local meteorologist Matt Setvak, the extent of the damage leads him to believe the tornado was "at least F3 intensity, but very likely F4," the AP reported. This measurement is on the six-point Fujita scale that measures the intensity of tornadoes based on the amount of damage it causes, still used by much of Europe. The Fujita scale was replaced by the Enhanced Fujita Scale in the United States in 2007.
Such powerful winds from the tornado caused horrific damage in several towns surrounding the city of Hodonin.
“It’s a huge tragedy,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Thursday. Babis is traveling back from the EU Summit in Brussels to visit the affected area on Friday.
Damage across the region was substantial, with entire roofs ripped off of homes, shattered windows and overturned cars. The local zoo was also destroyed, according to BBC. According to Marek Babisz, a region official for the village of Hrusky, almost half of the town was leveled to the ground.
A view shows debris and damaged cars in the aftermath of a rare tornado that struck and destroyed parts of some towns, in Moravska Nova Ves village, Czech Republic, June 25, 2021. (Photo/REUTERS)
“The church is without the tower, the elementary school has no roof and insulation any more, only walls remained from what were houses. There’re injured, it’s really terrible," Babisz said.
A state of emergency was also declared for the disaster area.
South Moravia regional governor Jan Grolich described the traumatic scene as a "living hell" after he toured some of the damage, according to The Guardian.
More than 360 police officers were sent to respond to the region, as well as nearby rescue services from both Austria and Slovakia.
As a result of the severe weather, over 120,000 people were without electricity in the Czech Republic late on Thursday. A local TV station reported that 40,000 people in the southern Moravia region were still without power on Friday morning. Later on Friday, a local news outlet warned that residents in the Mikulcice area may be without power for "a few weeks."
The same news outlet reported that 2,000 customers also had their gas turned off in the Hodonin area.
The thunderstorms also caused travel delays, blocking entire highways for several hours.
Roys says a strong cold front is to blame for the outbreak of severe weather.
"The cold front swept through central Europe, dividing the cooler air across western Europe from the 100 F (38 C) heat across Hungary and the Balkans," explained Roys.
The deadly tornado continues what's been an active stretch for severe weather across western and central Europe. Parts of Spain and France were recently buried under so much hail that it appeared as if snow had fallen.
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