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Flooding Threatens Hungary As Central Europe Reels From Rain

An aerial view of the flooded Danube River in Deggendorf, Germany, on Friday.
Armin Weigel
An aerial view of the flooded Danube River in Deggendorf, Germany, on Friday.

Surging rivers in central Europe are threatening more people downstream, following heavy rains this week and a very sodden spring. After inundating Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Slovakia, the next area of danger appears to be Hungary.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban warned Friday that "it is now certain that we must face the largest-ever flood on the Danube, so we must be prepared for the worst," The Associated Press reported.

The rain-swollen Danube is decidedly muddy, not blue, as it surges south. The European Commission says the river's flood peak is expected to hit Hungary's capital city of Budapest on June 10. The organization's emergency response agency says the flood wave isn't expected to reach Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania in the next few days.

Matthias Schrader / AP

Meanwhile, the Elbe River's surge is rolling north toward Brandenberg state after inundating cities such as Dresden, Germany, and communities in the Czech Republic.

At least 19 people have died in flooding related accidents, the AP says, and thousands of people have evacuated to higher ground.

Another river that's buffeted a European capital is the Vltava. It overflowed its banks earlier this week in the Czech Republic, threatening Prague. The historic city center was protected, but surrounding neighborhoods were flooded. Much of the city's subway system was closed and drivers were taking longer routes to avoid submerged roads.

The European floods weren't triggered by recent heavy rains alone, says the Australian meteorological agency. It says the ground was saturated by a higher than normal rainy season, and river levels were already high. The agency says this year was one of the seven wettest in Austria on record.

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Korva Coleman is a newscaster for NPR.
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