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Germany

Dresden under Water

Record floods in the east German cultural capital of Dresden peaked at dawn on Saturday. The historic inner city is flooded - including architectural landmarks like the Zwinger Palace and the Semper Opera.

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Dresden residents: seeing is not believing

"The turning point has apparently been reached," Interior Ministry spokesman Burkhard Bayer said. "The water should not rise any more." "We hope the situation remains stable and the water eases slowly, but it is still a tense situation."

Volunteers continued to place sandbags overnight near some of the historic buildings in Dresden. Streets full of water in the centre gave the city a feeling of a Venice on the Elbe.

Fire fighters pumped water from basements in what was often a losing and unsavoury battle. "This is ground water mixed with sewage," one fire fighter explained near the Royal Palace. German officials have continued to evacuate nearby towns on the River Elbe around Dresden, the capital of Saxony 200 km (120 miles) south of Berlin. Meissen, famous for its porcelain, was among those affected, officials said. Magdeburg, another major city to the north of Dresden, is now bracing itself for record floods.

NATO said its disaster relief arm was coordinating assistance for the Czech Republic and had offered its support to five other central European countries, including Germany.

Floods have killed at least 90 people in Germany, Russia, Austria and the Czech Republic over the last week following
torrential rains which sent a huge surge of water through river systems.

At least 11 died in Saxony. A 56-year-old man in Dresden died on Friday night when he
drowned taking a final look at his basement before an evacuation, the Saxony Interior Ministry said.

Regions along the flooded rivers face a multi-billion-euro clean up. In the Czech capital Prague, some residents returned home as waters retreated there, but flooding continued elsewhere in the country and damage estimates were rising rapidly.