Archive for Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Storms, flooding claim dozens of lives in Europe

August 24, 2005


— Rescue workers piled sandbags to hold back floodwaters and evacuated hundreds of people from alpine valleys Tuesday as heavy rains and landslides battered central and southern Europe.

At least 26 people have died in storm- or flood-related accidents in the past week; most drowned, were crushed by debris or collapsed buildings or struck by lightning. Two Swiss firefighters were killed Monday in a landslide.

Worst hit was Romania with 18 dead, some 20,000 homes inundated and more than 1,000 small bridges damaged.

Five people were reported dead Tuesday in Austria, Bulgaria and Switzerland. Thundering torrents of water surged along riverbanks in many regions, causing millions of dollars in damage.

Austrian firefighters, soldiers and rescue workers fanned out to help hundreds to safety in the hard-hit Landeck region. The Kleinwalsertal Valley, which borders the German state of Bavaria, was completely cut off, with flooding of major access roads.

In a dramatic rescue in the southern province of Carinthia, firefighters saved a 72-year-old woman whose car was perched for two hours at a 45-degree angle into surging waters.

As water gushed around the windshield, a firefighter lowered by a helicopter shattered the rear window and attached cables to the frame. The car was dragged from the water with the driver inside. She suffered shock, police said.

A new wave of rain hit northwestern Bulgaria, flooding dozens of communities and killing one man, Bulgaria's Civil Defense agency said Tuesday. Border areas between Croatia and Slovenia were flooded, and emergency officials were on alert.


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