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EU aid pledge as floods rage on

June 3, 2013

The European Union has said it would provide financial aid to flood-stricken Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. Water levels are still rising with no let-up expected anytime soon.

People walk through the flooded centre of the Bavarian town of Passau, about 200 km (125 miles) northeast of Munich June 3, 2013. Following heavy rain and thaw, the Inn and Donau rivers are expected to rise to over 11 meters. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle (GERMANY - Tags: DISASTER SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT)
Image: Reuters

The European Commission pledged aid from its European Solidarity Fund, which was set up after the last major floods in 2002. Member states have 10 weeks to assess the extent of the damage and apply for the funds.

"I want to assure those affected and the politicians, too, that the European family will lend support to its member states and help where it's needed the most," EU Regional Commissioner Johannes Hahn said on Monday.

Many regions in eastern and southern Germany are still suffering heavy rainfall on Monday, which is expected to continue.

Several dams in the German states of Bavaria, Thuringia and Saxony burst. Large parts of those states are without power and many schools are closed on Monday.

Federal Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, who is in the eastern city of Chemnitz, assured residents that "we will do everything in our power to make it easier to deal with the damage."

Military help

The German military has sent 1,760 staff to help around 28,000 emergency services battling the floods.

In the Bavarian city of Passau, water levels along the Danube river reached a record 12.5 meters (41 feet).

"The situation is dramatic, especially in Wetterzeube, where we're expecting the worst floods along the White Elster river since 1924," Saxony-Anhalt State Premier Reiner Haseloff said.

Worst flood since the Middle Ages

The German Association of Fire Brigades (DFV) warned residents to stay at home if possible, avoid roads that have been shut down and to stay away from bridges.

In the south-western state of Baden-Württemberg, water levels along the Rhine, Main and Neckar rivers have stabilized, according to the interior ministry there.

Austria, Czech republic on high alert

In Austria, states of emergency have been declared in areas along the Danube river, with water levels climbing higher than in 2002, the last time Germany and Austria battled devastating floods.

The government in the Czech Republic declared a state of emergency in Bohemia and other areas. Both countries have sent soldiers to help emergency services there.

In Prague, authorities expect water levels along the Vltava river to peak on Monday.

ng/rc (dpa, AFP)