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14 dead, thousands evacuated in central Europe floods

A mother and her son, residents of Hermanice village, clean their flooded garden on August 8, 2010 near Liberec city, in North Bohemia. Eight people died and thousands were evacuated amid disrupted traffic and power outages as floods hit parts of central Europe following heavy rainfall on August 7, 2010, rescuers said. Photo courtesy AFP.

Storm leaves dozens hurt at heavy metal meet in Finland
Helsinki (AFP) Aug 8, 2010 - A severe thunderstorm hit the Sonisphere heavy metal music festival in southwestern Finland Sunday, injuring dozens and damaging the equipment of several bands including Motley Crue, organisers said. "A severe thunderstorm hit (the) Sonisphere Festival in Pori, Finland this afternoon at approximately 4:00 pm (1300 GMT)," the organisers said in a statement. "Strong freak wind gusts damaged the stages and knocked down tents and fences. Approximately 40 people were injured, two of them seriously," the statement said, adding that those hurt had been taken to hospital for treatment. Some 30,000 people were attending the two-day festival, where groups like Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper, Motley Crue and Iggy Pop had been scheduled to play, and the organisers said they were "doing everything we can to ensure that the show can take place."

However, one of the stages suffered massive damage and had been closed, and several concerts, including Motley Crue's, were cancelled due to damaged equipment. Iggy Pop meanwhile opted to play an acoustic set due to the difficulty using electric equipment, while Alice Cooper had borrowed equipment from Slayer, the organisers said. Iron Maiden, the highlight of the festival, would also play the finishing concert as planned Sunday evening, although the set had been slightly postponed, they added. "The show will run so long as it can run safely," Sonisphere Festival series producer Stuart Galbraith said in the statement. According to Finnish media, a plane chartered by Iron Maiden had been severely damaged at the local airport, as had a small helicopter.
by Staff Writers
Goerlitz, Germany (AFP) Aug 8, 2010
Floods caused by torrential rain left 14 people dead and several others missing in central Europe over the weekend, with residents rescued from rising waters in boats, buses and helicopters.

While rivers burst their banks and dykes were breached in Poland, Germany the Czech Republic and Lithuania, in western Europe about 500 firefighters tackled wildfires in Portugal.

Three people drowned in southwestern Poland, near the border with Germany and the Czech Republic, Polish Interior Minister Jerzy Miller told reporters on Sunday.

A woman drowned in the town of Bogatynia, which was heavily damaged by a river that burst its banks on Saturday, forcing 700 people to leave their homes, Polish firefighters' spokesman Pawel Fratczak told AFP.

Another woman drowned in the same region, where a 55-year-old fireman was also swept away when a dyke burst, he added.

A burst dam sent a flood wave down the Neisse River separating Germany from Poland, putting parts of the twin cities of Zgorzelec-Goerlitz on the German-Polish border underwater.

"The flood wave hit the town in a few hours. We couldn't do anything to get ready for that," Goerlitz mayor Michael Wieler told Germany's N24 TV channel, saying that the river rose by several metres in the space of a few hours.

The Neisse reached a height of 7.07 metres in Goerlitz -- more than three times its normal level and the highest since record-keeping began in 1912.

German police said nearly 1,500 people including the residents of two homes for elderly people had been evacuated in the same region in boats, buses and helicopters.

Some 1,700 rescue workers fanned out across the region to help those stranded.

"The elderly in particular are in a state and worrying about their homes and animals," said Christoph Wiesener of the Goerlitz fire brigade.

In Neukirchen near Chemnitz in southeastern Germany, three people were found drowned in a cellar on Saturday.

In the northern Czech Republic, three people drowned on Saturday and one "died of stress when cleaning his flooded house," local ambulance spokeswoman Lenka Moravcova told AFP on Sunday.

Czech authorities also said at least three people were missing with next to no chance of being found.

In Liberec, around 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of Prague, thousands were forced to leave their homes due to rising waters.

Whole streets and squares disappeared under muddy waters in the region, where some 200 people were evacuated by helicopters as several dams and dykes threatened to burst.

In other parts of the country, rescuers evacuated children from several summer camps.

A 16-year-old girl went missing as a raft with six people capsized on a rain-swollen river in western Czech Republic on Sunday.

But the rain stopped on Sunday and weather forecasts for the region were optimistic.

In May and June this year, heavy flooding killed 22 people in Poland and six in the Czech Republic.

As the heavy rains moved north into the Baltic state of Lithuania four people were killed, including two campers when a tree crashed down on their tent, the Baltic News Service reported.

Flash flooding cut traffic on numerous roads and some streets in the port city of Klaipeda were underwater.

In Portugal nearly 500 firefighters tackled wildfires in the north and centre of the country, with rescue services saying the situation was improving due to changing weather conditions.

The number of major fires had dropped from 20 on Saturday to eight on Sunday, the civil protection agency said.

The biggest blaze was near the town of Sao Pedro do Sul, in the Viseu area, where more than 200 firefighters, 60 vehicles and three helicopters were deployed.

earlier related report
Ten dead, thousands evacuated in central Europe floods
Warsaw Aug 8, 2010 - Floods caused by torrential rain left 10 people dead and several others missing in central Europe Sunday, with residents rescued from rising waters in boats, buses and helicopters. While rivers burst their banks and dykes were breached in Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic, in western Europe about 500 firefighters tackled wildfires in Portugal. Three people drowned in southwestern Poland, near the country's borders with Germany and the Czech Republic, Polish Interior Minister Jerzy Miller told reporters Sunday. A woman drowned in the town of Bogatynia, which was heavily damaged by a river that burst its banks on Saturday, forcing 700 people to leave their homes, Polish firefighters' spokesman Pawel Fratczak told AFP. Another woman drowned in the same region, where a 55-year-old fireman was also swept away when a dyke burst, he added. Water from the breached dyke partly flooded Zgorzelec-Goerlitz on the German-Polish border. "The flood wave hit the town in a few hours. We couldn't do anything to get ready for that," Goerlitz mayor Michael Wieler told Germany's N24 TV channel Sunday. The river rose by seven metres (23 feet), he said. German police said nearly 1,500 people including the residents of two homes for elderly people had been evacuated in the same region in boats, buses and helicopters. In Neukirchen near Chemnitz in southeastern Germany, three people were found drowned in a cellar on Saturday. In the northern Czech Republic, three people drowned on Saturday and one "died of stress when cleaning his flooded house," local ambulance spokeswoman Lenka Moravcova told AFP on Sunday. Czech authorities also said at least three people were missing with next to no chance of being found. In Liberec, around 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of Prague, thousands were forced to leave their homes due to rising waters. Whole streets and squares disappeared under muddy waters in the region, where some 200 people were evacuated by helicopters as several dams and dykes threatened to burst. In other parts of the country, rescuers evacuated children from several summer camps. A 16-year-old girl went missing as a raft with six people capsized on a rain-swollen river in western Czech Republic on Sunday. But the rain stopped on Sunday and weather forecasts for the region were optimistic. In May and June this year, heavy flooding killed 22 people in Poland and six in the Czech Republic. In Portugal nearly 500 firefighters tackled wildfires in the north and centre of the country, with rescue services saying the situation was improving due to changing weather confitions. The number of major fires had dropped from 20 on Saturday to eight on Sunday, the civil protection agency said. The biggest blaze was near the town of Sao Pedro do Sul, in the Viseu area, where more than 200 firefighters, 60 vehicles and three helicopters were deployed. On Saturday three people including two firefighters suffered light injuries from the fires and a dozen were evacuated from their homes, authorities said. The situation was improving due to changing weather Sunday, with cooler temperatures, cloud and the possibility of rain.



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Pakistan PM calls for help as fresh rains hamper flood aid
Tori Band, Pakistan (AFP) Aug 8, 2010
Fresh rains lashed flood-hit Pakistan Sunday, hampering aid efforts and threatening to deepen a crisis affecting 15 million people in the country's worst ever floods. Helicopters were grounded in the northwest while rescuers rushed to evacuate families in the poor southern farming belt of Sindh, where officials were readying for a deluge that could burst the banks of the swollen Indus river. ... read more

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