Rail closures as tens of thousands across Germany and Hungary left homeless by floods swelling Elbe and Danube rivers

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

One of the Germany's main railway routes closed

The swollen River Elbe has breached another levee on its relentless march towards the North Sea, forcing Germany to evacuate 10 villages and close one of the country's main railway routes.

As the surge from the Elbe pushed into rural eastern Germany, there was some relief further upstream as the river slipped back from record levels in Magdeburg, the capital of Saxony-Anhalt state.

To the south, the Danube hit a record high on Sunday evening in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, then began to ease back. The city escaped significant damage, and Prime Minister Viktor Orban said soldiers and rescue workers would shift their focus further south.

Weeks of heavy rain this spring have made the Elbe, the Danube and other rivers such as the Vltava and the Saale overflow, causing extensive damage in central and southern Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. At least 21 flood-related deaths have been reported.

Germany's national railway had to close a bridge near Fischbeck on the line from Berlin to Cologne, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.

Tens of thousands of people were forced to evacuate their homes across Germany and Hungary on Sunday as further dramatic rises in the levels of the swollen Elbe and Danube rivers continued to cause some of the most devastating floods ever experienced in Central Europe.

In the east German city of Magdeburg, flood waters from the Elbe rose 80cm higher than during 2002’s so-called “flood of the century”. Some 23,000 residents were forced to flee their homes as soldiers, rescue workers and volunteers battled furiously to shore up dykes.

City officials said an entire district of Magdeburg faced the possibility being submerged and there were fears that an electricity-supply station would be flooded, shutting off power supplies. “You just cannot imagine what people are having to deal with,” said the German President Joachim Gauck after touring flood-hit towns.

The flooding northwards along the Elbe is expected to continue and possibly even worsen this week as waters from the river’s swollen tributaries flow into the main river south of Magdeburg and head north-west.

In southern Germany thousands of residents were struggling with a massive clean-up operation following devastating Danube floods which hit parts of Bavaria last week. Further heavy rain is forecast for southern Germany and further flooding in the region could not be ruled out.

So far at least 15 people have died in Central Europe since the flooding began a week ago. In Germany, 70,000 firemen, 11,000 soldiers and tens of thousands of volunteer rescue workers are battling the rising waters. 

On Sunday the Elbe cities of Wittenberge and Lauenburg were also hit by severe flooding and officials said they  expected water levels would remain high for days. By contrast 10,000 residents evacuated from the town of Bitterfeld, further south, were being allowed to return home yesterday as the floodwaters receded.

German police said the problems caused by the floods were exacerbated by letters circulated early on Sunday by a suspected left-wing group, threatening to damage sections of already weakened river dykes in order to create chaos.

The letters signed by a group calling itself the “anti-German, anti-fascist flood brigade” threatened to strike at  dykes in order to “harm people across Germany”. Police said they had stepped up helicopter surveillance and road patrols in response.

In Hungary, thousands of volunteers, rescue workers and even convicts were reinforcing dykes along a 470-mile stretch of the swollen Danube yesterday. Some 2,000 residents were evacuated from the village of Gyorujfalu in western Hungary because a dyke threatened to burst.

Small towns and villages have already been cut off and in Budapest the Danube was expected to reach record levels early today. Istvan Tarlos, the city’s mayor, said that in the worst case up to 55,000 people would need to be evacuated.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on