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Central Europe hit by major floods

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Central Europe hit by major floods
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Berlin: Authorities in parts of Europe issued disaster warnings and scrambled to reinforce flood defences 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, Austria, and Switzerland since the rains began on Thursday.

The floods have killed at least one person and left several missing across the Czech Republic.

Czech officials warned that the waters of the Vltava river could reach critical levels in Prague late on Sunday as soldiers erected metal barriers and piled up sandbags to protect Prague's historic centre from flooding after days of heavy rains swelled rivers and forced evacuations from some low-laying areas.

Prague authorities also limited public transport and closed underground stations as water from the Vltava River overflowed into parts of the Old Town.

The area is a UNESCO heritage site boasting hundreds of well-preserved buildings, churches and monuments dating back mostly to the 14th Century, including the Charles Bridge that straddles the Vltava.

"Due to the current situation, I have declared a state of danger for the area of the capital city," acting mayor Tomas Hudecek told a news conference.

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

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