Flood Waters Causing Havoc in Bavaria | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 23.08.2005
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Flood Waters Causing Havoc in Bavaria

Parts of the German state of Bavaria were declared danger zones after floodwaters on Alpine rivers caused chaos and destruction, cutting off access to several towns, including the resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.


Officials have evacuated hundreds of homes

In southern Bavaria, the worst floodwaters to hit the region in more than five years cut several towns off from the outside world on Tuesday, while other parts of the state remained on high alert.

The districts of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Kempten were the worst affected as volunteers and aid workers moved to secure dykes and inhabitants from low-lying areas prepared for evacuation.

Rail services into and out of Munich were crippled after key lines were closed owing to mudslides and high water.

Hochwasser in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

A man transports sandbags on his tractor in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Authorities said that the catastrophe was worse than the 1999 floods, deemed the worst in centuries at the time. But they believed the worst was over as floodwaters crested Tuesday afternoon in the Bavarian Alps. Officials warned of flood-spawned mudslides on steep Alpine slopes as the waters headed northward to Munich and the Danube.

Zerstörte Strasse nach Hochwasser in der Schweiz

The cantonal road is torn away next to the river Emme in Werthenstein, central Switzerland.

Mudslides have already completely isolated the town of Balderschwang on the Austrian border, which can only be reached by air. Crews worked to clear a path through the wall of mud, while in other locations across southern Bavaria, hundreds of workers piled sandbags and helped with evacuation efforts.

No flood-related fatalities have been reported in Germany but, in a dramatic rescue, a 19-year-old woman was plucked from her car by a truck driver after her vehicle was washed off the road.

Death toll

In neighboring countries also affected by the flood, however, the death toll has risen to six. On Tuesday, one person was killed when a swollen stream tore down eight houses in the Swiss city of Brienz. A second victim was found drowned in a river in another town.

In southern Tyrol in Austria, one man was killed by a flood-triggered rockslide.

Three other deaths were reported on Sunday and Monday in both Austria and Switzerland.

Swiss television has been showing footage of collapsed bridges and motorways, and people being evacuated by boat through city streets.

Authorities are already calculating damages to run into millions. Parts of the Swiss capital of Bern and the city of Interlaken are already submerged, while several other towns have been cut off. Thousands of residents have been evacuated so far.

More rain for Germany

Hochwasser in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

A man carries sand bags in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The bags will be used to keep a nearby river from overflowing

Weather forecasts predicted gradual improvement in conditions in Switzerland through the rest of the week, though in Germany, meteorologists are warning that there won't be a let-up in the downpour soon. Jörg Kachelmann of the Metromedia weather service said he was reckoning with continual and partly strong showers of about 100 liters (about 25 gallons) per square meter (10 square feet).

"What's happening is dramatic and it can take on catastrophic dimensions in certain regions," Kachelmann told the Netzzeitung.

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