Central Europe hit by floods after days of rain

BERLIN (AP) — Authorities in parts of central Europe issued disaster warnings and scrambled to reinforce flood defenses Sunday as rivers swelled by days of heavy rain threatened to burst their banks.

Several people have died or are missing in the floods in Germany, the Czech Republic and Switzerland since Thursday.

Czech officials warned that the waters of the Vltava river could reach critical levels in Prague late Sunday. Interim Mayor Tomas Hudecek said authorities were considering whether to shut down parts of the capital’s subway network and called on people not to travel to city.

In the nearby city of Trebenice a woman was found dead in the rubble after a summer cottage collapsed due to the raging water, Czech public television reported.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas said 200 soldiers have been deployed so far to help local authorities.

In Germany, where at least four people have died or are missing, Chancellor Angela Merkel promised federal support for affected areas and said the army would be deployed if necessary.

Several cities including Chemnitz in the east, and Passau and Rosenheim in the south, issued disaster warnings.

Passau, which is located at the confluence of three rivers, could see waters rise above record levels of 2002, said Mayor Juergen Dupper.

German news agency dpa reported that large stretches of the Rhine, Main and Neckar rivers have been closed to ship traffic.

Evacuations are also taking place in neighboring Austria and Switzerland.

Meteorologists are predicting the rainfall will ease in the coming days.

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Karel Janicek in Prague, Czech Republic, contributed to this report.

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