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Thousands of Germans, Hungarians and Czechs evacuated as floods hit central Europe

19,000 people have been evacuated from the flooding in the Czech Republic

Tens of thousands of Germans, Hungarians and Czechs were being evacuated today as the worst floods in a decade continued to claim lives and cause chaos throughout central Europe.

Authorities say that 15 people have died and at least four others are missing in the floods.

More than 19,000 people have been evacuated from the rising waters in the Czech Republic.

One raging flood that inundated parts of Prague is now heading north toward Germany.

Some 3,000 people had to leave their homes in Usti nad Labem on the Elbe river near the German border where the waters were still on the rise Wednesday.

High waters have already submerged parts of the city as well many other towns along the Elbe, the biggest river in the country.

The dead included eight people in the Czech Republic, four in Germany, two in Austria and one in Slovakia.

Authorities are now concerned about the safety of chemical plants next to the swollen rivers. The plants have been shut down and their chemicals removed.

Hundreds were being evacuated in the German city of Dresden, where the Elbe river is expected to crest later.

Some 600 people have been evacuated in Dresden with the water levels in the River Elbe in the historic German city not expected to peak until Thursday.

Water levels in the Czech Republic are as high as they were in 2002 and 1997 when the country suffered disastrous deluge.

In the Czech capital, Prague, the level of the Vltava river continued dropping as authorities surveyed the damage.

Prague's Zoo was particularly badly hit for a second time in 11 years. This year's spike in water levels has been far less than in 2002 but the zoo estimated the damage at $8 million as major reconstruction will be needed once again.

The lower side of the park was submerged and animals had to be evacuated. The zoo announced it would reopen the higher parts to the public today. "The flood will not break us," it said in a statement.