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German floods 'likely to cost billions'

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German floods 'likely to cost billions'
Photo: DPA
11:21 CEST+02:00
Cities and towns along the Elbe braced for a huge flood wave to roll downriver on Thursday, as German officials estimated the natural disaster would cause billions of euros in damages.

With large chunks of Germany already under water, thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes in recent days. Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged €100 million in immediate aid, but it now seems the damage will far surpass that sum.

Authorities have put the damage in the eastern state of Saxony alone at over €2.5 billion, but with the waters cresting there on Thursday, that figure could be revised higher. German parliamentarians were due to debate the historic flooding in the Bundestag later in the day.

Regional overview:

SAXONY: The flood wave was expected to reach its highpoint in the eastern state of Saxony midday Thursday. Massive amounts of water were hurling down the Elbe River towards the Saxon capital Dresden from the neighbouring Czech Republic. But officials in the baroque city did not expect the record flooding from 2002 to be surpassed. Other cities in the state, however, were already underwater, including popular tourist destinations such as Pirna, Meißen und Riesa.

SAXONY-ANHALT: The waters on Thursday morning threatened the regions around Bitterfeld and Halle. "We hope the dykes hold," said a member of the state's disaster response team. However, a lake near Bitterfeld was close to spilling over its banks, which would flood the entire city. Halle on the Saale River was preparing for a large evacuation after parts of the old town had already been flooded. Some 30,000 residents could be forced to leave their homes.

LOWER SAXONY: Further down the Elbe, people in this northern German state were bracing for the flood wave to crest sometime between Thursday and the weekend. Tens of thousands of helpers were reinforcing dykes with sandbags day and night.

BAVARIA: This southern state appeared to have the worst flooding behind it, but many communities were still underwater on Thursday. Waterlogged dykes threatened to give way in Straubing and Deggendorf, according to the authorities. The Danube River, which caused the worst flooding in 500 years in the city of Passau, was slowly receding.

BRANDENBURG: The eastern state surrounding Berlin had so far avoided massive flooding, but water levels were expected to rise slowly along the Oder, Neiße and Spree rivers.

DPA/The Local/mry

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