The Heat Is Online

"Flood of the Century" Inundates Bavaria

Heavy rains swell German and Austrian rivers, killing six
Agence France-Presse, May 24, 1999

MUNICH, Germany (AFP) - Heavy rains caused widespread flooding in southern Germany and Austria over the Whitsun weekend, causing at least six deaths, rescue services said Monday.

In Germany, two pensioners, aged 75 and 87, drowned in Bavaria when floods swamped their homes. The body of a 43-year-old man was found near the town of Abensberg Monday. Rescue-workers said they were seeking two other men who disappeared on canoeing or boating trips.

In Austria, the body of a 17-year-old German was recovered from a river in the Tyrol, bringing to three the number of deaths there, the Austrian news agency APA reported. The youth was reported missing after he was swept away while canoeing with two companions Sunday.

On Saturday, the driver of an excavator was killed when his vehicle was caught in a landslip in Schoenwies in the Tyrol. An 83-year-old woman drowned in a stream in the Vorarlberg province of western Austria.

"This is the flood of the century, the situation is extraordinarily menacing," Guenther Beckstein, Bavaria's interior minister, said.

Throughout Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg, villages, fields, roads and railway lines were under water. Some floods invaded the streets of towns such as Augsburg, Ingolstadt, Passau, Neuburg or Neu-Ulm.

Local authorities put nine districts of Bavaria on the alert and around 900 Bundeswehr soldiers, with 100,000 sandbags and backed by 10 helicopters, were called in to help reinforce dykes and to assist the emergency services.

At Ingolstadt, the Danube reached a level of 7.48 metres (24.31) feet, its highest level since 1845. Lake Constance rose to 5.65 metres, its highest for 60 years, flooding car-parks and camp-sites.

At the foot of the Alps, however, the situation was improving Monday as the levels of the Iller, the Lech and the Wertach began to drop. Nevertheless, at Neu-Ulm, on the confluence of the Danube and the Iller, 230 people, patients of a clinic and prison inmates, had to be evacuated.

In Neuburg, the authorities said streets were awash with 40 centimetres of water. "All the dykes held," said a rescue-service spokesman, "five centimetres more and it was over."

To help repair the damage, the Brandenburg authorities have offered Bavaria aid in recognition of the help they received from Munich during floods at Frankfurt-Oder in 1997.

German Floods Kill Two
Agence France-Presse, May 22, 1999

MUNICH, Germany, May 22 (AFP) - Two people were killed overnight as flooding swept parts of the southern German state of Bavaria and officials drafted in troops to help with the rescue effort.

An elderly man drowned in his cellar in Dirlewang, near Munich, officials said, after becoming trapped by the rising water as he tried to rescue belongings. His wife was unable to save him after the flood water forced the cellar door shut.

In Garmisch-Partenkirchen, near the Austrian border, a 75-year-old man drowned in similar circumstances, officials said.

The army was called in to help evacuate 120 people from near the ski resort of Eschenlohe after flood waters cut road links between Munich and the area.

The flooding followed heavy rainfall in the Germany-Austria border region. Several roads remained closed in western Austria Saturday.