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Thousands flee in eastern Germany as dam bursts

Updated: 2013-06-10 16:55
( Xinhua)

Thousands flee in eastern Germany as dam bursts

Flooded railway tracks are pictured near the river Elbe in the eastern German town of Schoenebeck, south of Magdeburg June 9, 2013.[Photo/Agencies] 

BERLIN - A dam near Saxony-Anhalt state capital Magdeburg in eastern Germany burst overnight on Monday despite attempts to stabilise it, forcing the authorities to ask more than 20,000 people to leave their homes.

The dam breach happened at a village 40 km northeast of Magdeburg, regional disaster management authorities said, and hundreds of local residents were immediately asked to evacuate.

Water levels in the Elbe river rose to a record 7.4 metres over the weekend, more than 5 meters higher that the normal reading of 2 meters.

According to the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, flood water levels had fallen slightly in the Magdeburg city on Monday, while other parts of Saxony-Anhalt still faces flood threat. Local media said precautionary evacuations affected more than 44,000 people in Saxony-Anhalt state as a whole.

Authorities said the situation is currently under control, but warned that the high waters could put further pressure on regional dams in coming days as the flood water rushes downstream toward Hamburg. Meteorologists have forecast more rain in the coming days.

Tens of thousands of firefighters, soldiers and volunteers have been working on rescue efforts across the country.

German President Joachim Gauck on Sunday toured some of the flooded eastern regions, including the flood-stricken city of Halle near Magdeburg. Meanwhile, Chancellor Angela Merkel is planning a crisis meeting with state leaders on how the cost of the disaster will be shared, the Leipziger Volkszeitung daily reported.

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