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Germany

German Flooding Reaches Record Levels

The swollen Elbe river on Sunday rose to record levels in parts of northern Germany, but authorities said the worst of recent flooding would soon be over.

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Hitzacker has been hit hardest this weekend by the flooding Elbe

In Lauenberg, in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, the river rose another five centimeters overnight to 9.09 meters (around 30 feet) and was expected to reach a depth of 9.20 centimeters, a local authority spokesman said.

"We have the situation completely in hand," he said, adding that measures had been taken to protect historic buildings.

The river, which normally lies at around five meters, has flooded cellars and threatened severe damage to 16th and 17th century houses.

Upstream at Hitzacker, most of the old town was under water after the river swelled to almost three times its normal level of 2.75 meters.

It was 12 centimeters deeper on Sunday morning than in 2002 when northern and eastern Germany suffered devastating floods, but authorities said they expected it would not go beyond the current level of 7.63 meters.

"We are assuming that we have reached the limit," a spokeswoman for the city said, adding that the water was expected to start receding on Monday.

Authorities believed it would take around 12 days to drain away.

Some 3,200 rescue workers and soldiers had been rushed to the area in recent days to place thousands of sandbags along the river to reinforce dykes.

Chancellor Angela Merkel was expected to visit Hitzacker on Sunday afternoon, and take a helicopter flight over other flooded areas.

The Elbe flooded parts of the eastern state of Saxony earlier this month as snow melted at the beginning of spring. It swelled to more than three times its normal level before receding.

The historic state capital of Dresden escaped damage, unlike in 2002 when it was badly hit by the floodwaters.

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