The Heat Is Online

Vistula River Flooding Drives 100,000 From Warsaw Homes

100,000 told to flee as flood hits Polish capital

'This is a matter of life and death,' Warsaw's mayor warns as water rises

 msnbc.com and NBC News, May 24, 2010

WARSAW, Poland - About 100,000 people have been told to flee Warsaw after the river that runs through Poland's capital burst its banks, NBC News reported Monday.

High waters have already killed 12 people throughout the country and caused the Vistula River to overflow its banks on Sunday.
 
Floodwaters have softened walls running along the river, prompting authorities to close 220 schools and many nearby streets, NBC News reported. On Monday, water reached the second floors of some buildings.

Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz on Sunday ordered schools near the river closed Monday as a precaution. She said that although the river level is slowly falling, the city remains at risk through Tuesday.

"The threat is real," she warned. "This is a matter of life and death, and it is better that children be with there parents. This is a disaster that has already claimed 12 lives."

Many Poles in recent days have refused to evacuate their homes out of fear of looting.

The village of Swiniary, near Plock, experienced serious flooding Sunday after the Vistula burst its banks there. TV footage showed water rising almost to the roofs of some homes.

Defense Minister Bogdan Klich deployed five helicopters there to evacuate people, his spokesman Janusz Sejmej said, according to the news agency PAP. Sejmej said the army has 19 helicopters total in evacuations across the country.

In the western city of Wroclaw, most of one neighborhood, Kozanow, was covered by water after the Oder River broke its banks in two places Saturday. There, waters rose more than a yard around multistory apartment buildings.

The Associated Press and NBC News' Krzysztof Galica contributed to this report.

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