Europe

Toll from Poland flooding rises

  • 25 May 2010
  • From the section Europe

The death toll from flooding in Poland has risen to at least 14, as authorities battle to deal with the worst floods in decades.

The floods hit southern Poland first, but rivers are now carrying the flood waters furthern north.

The Vistula, the county's biggest river, has burst its banks in central Poland and is threatening Warsaw.

Poland's prime minister has promised tens of millions of dollars in aid, while Russia has also offered to help.

A spokesman for the national fire brigade, Pawel Fratcak, was quoted as saying that flood levels on the Vistula and the Oder were at levels unseen since the late 19th Century.

Areas near the city of Polk, north-west of Warsaw, were among the worst affected.

In the village of Swiniary, 80km (50 miles) north-west of Warsaw, water from the country's largest river, the Vistula, breached a dyke.

Rescue workers were blasting holes to try to divert water away from homes.

"The flood barriers in many parts of Poland are in a very poor condition now after days of inundation," said interior ministry spokeswoman Malgorzata Wozniak.

Farm animals, as well as thousands of people, were being evacuated from rural areas.

In Warsaw, the mayor warned that tens of thousands of people were at risk of having their houses flooded, and schools and a major road have been closed.

The interior ministry said it had allocated 152m zlotys (36m euros, £31m) for flood victims, Reuters news agency reported.

Russia said it was sending humanitarian aid including water pumps and diesel generators, while Mr Fratcak said rescue teams from several other states including Germany, Lithuania and Ukraine were also helping.

The floods have also affected the Czech Republic, Serbia and Slovakia.

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