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Dresden in line of flood wave

Muddy waters surround the castle in Dresden, Germany
Muddy waters surround the castle in Dresden, Germany  

DRESDEN, Germany -- German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has promised $100 million in aid to flood-stricken parts of the country as regions face their worst weather conditions on record.

Schroeder who faces general elections in September broke from his re-election campaign to visit the affected areas. He has announced all campaigning will be suspended until the crisis is over.

The eastern part of the German state of Saxony is worst hit, where at least nine lives have been lost, and famous buildings in the historic town of Dresden are under threat.

Dresden is in the line of the floodwaters that have just coursed through another historic city Prague in the Czech Republic.

As the Vltava recedes the Elbe has reached record levels not seen since 1845, about five metres above normal heights.

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Irina Duevel, a spokeswoman for Lower Saxony's Interior Ministry, told Reuters: "The tributaries around the Elbe are overflowing and the Elbe is still rising."

Three thousand residents were evacuated from Dresden and nearby Pirna on Thursday morning in addition to the 20,000 who have already left.

The government has announced $100 million in aid for those residents and businessmen whose properties have been directly affected, but the regional government of Saxony has already predicted the amount of damage could be one billion euros.

Marika e-mailed CNN saying: "We live near Dresden and I can't imagine that this is reality. Our house is not flooded, but we see the pictures, especially on TV and it's unbelievable because you know the towns without water.

"Now we are waiting for the huge flood from the Czech Republic."

Another e-mailer, Peggy Steiniger, wrote: "I'm writing on behalf of my friend, who lives in a small town near Dresden, that got hit by the water really bad. '...It's the worst nightmare you can ever imagine!' she said this morning (via mobile phone).'"

She added: "...Everything, houses and even the graveyard have been swept away by the water. Rescue workers are desperate to get the people out of the houses, they work night and day -- a BIG THANK YOU to them!!!

"Rescue workers from all over Germany are on their way -- but it's hard to get into the flooded cities -- and still the worst is yet to come from the flood that hit Prague. Please pray for all the people out there in the flood!"

Zwinger Palace
Dresden's artwork under threat as museums flooded  

CNN's Gaven Morris said the atmosphere in Dresden was "very much and emergency in progress."

"Sirens have been constantly sounding and helicopters are hovering overhead."

All of Dresden's hospitals are being evacuated and taken to other unaffected towns after water began rising up through the tiles and threatened operations.

Among the dead are a 71-year-old man who drowned on Monday night. German authorities said two other adults and a child were missing after being swept away by a cascade of mud and water

Thirty thousand people have been evacuated from areas near rivers or dams, while Dresden's Zwinger Palace, host to one of Europe's great art museums, is partially under water.

Volunteers were moving thousands of pieces of artwork from the basement and ground floor to safety on higher levels. Museum officials told Reuters news agency the city's art collections had not been damaged.

Another city landmark, the Semper Opera, had its basement pumped out by firefighters while Dresden's railway station resembled a swimming pool.

Authorities further downstream in the town of Dessau and further afield in Hamburg were anticipating the flood waters to reach them in the next few days.

Also under threat are Bitterfeld, home to 350 chemical firms, including the pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG.

The town of Jessmitz, in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, was flooded -- and its residents evacuated -- after the river Mulde broke its banks.

But the worst in southern Bavaria seems to have passed.

The 100 million euros ($99 million) pledged by the Cabinet is a third of the 300 million euros needed to clean up after the river Oder flooded on Germany's eastern border in 1997.




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