The Heat Is Online

HUNDREDS EVACUATED AFTER FLOODS IN EAST HUNGARY

March 9, 1999

BUDAPEST - Hundreds of people have been evacuated following disastrous floods in Hungary's agricultural heartland and thousands more homes are at risk, local news media reported. In what farmers have described as the worst floods in living memory, around 3,200 sq km (1,240 sq miles) of eastern Hungary is under water, 700 people have been evacuated and a further 7,000 homes are threatened, the news reports said.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban declared a state of emergency on Saturday, saying he would consider further action during a government meeting due on Tuesday.

In the capital Budapest, the city government plans to close some roads by the Danube on Monday and Tuesday, as water levels are expected to rise by a further nine centimetres (3.5 inches) on Monday. Water from the Danube and Tisza rivers has made farming impossible on 1,600 sq km (620 sq miles) of agricultural land in eastern Hungary.

In the eastern region of Tokaj, the water from the Tisza was rising two centimetres (0.8 inches) per hour, with more rain expected on Monday, the MTI news agency and Hungarian radio reported.

The water table began to rise rapidly last month after early thawing melted record snow falls in the first half of February.

Floods have already affected spring wheat and barley and could hurt other crops as well, farmers in the region said last week.

(C) Reuters Limited 1999.