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2 Jun, 2013 17:16

Evacuation in Prague, state of emergency as floods grip Czech Republic (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

The historical center of Prague is under threat as the worst flood in decades cause chaos, claiming the lives of at least five people. Almost 2,700 people from low-lying areas of Czech Republic were evacuated, schools closed and transportation halted.

The subway in the center of the capital was halted for the first time since massive floods hit the city in 2002.

The disaster, caused by torrential rains, has prompted evacuation of hospitals, retirement homes and cultural institutions as well as the city zoo.

Heavy rain over the weekend has resulted in flood warnings in west, north, central and south Bohemia.

One woman died after her home collapsed in Trebenice u Prahy, southwest of Prague. Later authorities discovered the dead body of a man, Czech public television reported. Separately, at least three other people were reported missing, two of them after their raft overturned on the River Berounka in Hlasna Treban, central Bohemia.

In Prague, rescue workers, aided by the army, have set up flood barriers.

A state of emergency has been declared in the Czech Republic due to the threat of flooding, Prime Minister Petr Nečas announced in a televised address.

He added that the government has allocated 300 million Czech Koruna ($15 million ) to battle the flooding.

“The situation is very serious,” acting mayor Tomas Hudecek stated, as water levels in the Vltava, the river that flows through Prague, reached 1,513 cubic meters per second. During the 2002 floods 5,000 cubic meters was flowing through the city every second, according to the Prague Post.

The rising water levels have interrupted rail services between Bohemia and Moravia, with trains being stopped near Kolin.

The flooding also partially damaged half of the 51 metro stations in Prague, with 17 of them submerged, local media Ceskenoviny reports adding that the total damage was put at 73 billion Czech Koruna (about $4 billion) , 27 billion (about $1,5 billion) of which in Prague only.

Ducks stand in water on the left bank of the flooded Vltava river on June 2, 2013 in Prague (AFP Photo / Michael Cizek)

Foul weather has also hit Germany, Austria and Switzerland with at least six people reported dead and seven missing because of floods, according to the Associated Press.

Heavy rain is affecting the Rivers Danube and Inn in Bavaria, while rivers in Saxony and Baden-Wuerttemberg have also burst their banks.

Eyewitnesses in the city of Passau, Germany, report that water level in historical center reaches up to the second floor. Roads and bridges are closed. The water has cut off the way to shops.  Small boats are being used to supply goods to old people. 

Rescuers transport residents from flooded parts of the city to dry land as officials warned that water levels, already the highest in 70 years, could rise further.

“The situation is extremely dramatic,” AP is citing spokesman Herbert Zillinger as saying.

In Austria, a man was found dead in Salzburg as he was swept away while working on flood defenses and another two people are missing in the Salzburg area, according to the Salzberger Nachrichten.

A man stands on a footbridge in the flooded Vltava river on June 2, 2013 in Prague (AFP Photo / Michael Cizek)

A metal anti-flood barriers and sand bags are seen as Vltava river is flooded on June 02, 2013 in Prague (AFP Photo / Michael Cizek)

Members of the emercengy services build anti-flood barriers on the left bank of Vlatva river near the Charles Bridge on June 02, 2013 in Prague (AFP Photo / Michael Cizek)

Reuters / David W Cerny