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Thousands flee as German dam bursts

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Thousands flee as German dam bursts
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Berlin: Thousands of people have been evacuated to safety in eastern Germany after a dam burst on the swollen River Elbe and farmland was flooded in an attempt to spare towns, with meteorologists forecasting more rain.

In Magdeburg, one of the oldest cities in eastern Germany and a regional capital, some 23,000 people were asked to leave on Monday as water levels in the Elbe rose to a record 7.48 metres - about 5 metres above normal and surpassing the level reached during devastating floods in 2002.

There have been at least a dozen deaths as a result of floods that have hit Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic over the past week.

Officials said more than 8,000 people were evacuated from towns and villages around Aken, south of Magdeburg.

A dam at the confluence of the River Elbe and the River Saale south of Magdeburg burst despite attempts to stabilise it.

A dyke was also breached, and a crisis unit said the high waters were likely to put further pressure on dykes in coming days.

In total, more than 36,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in Saxony-Anhalt.

Some residents were also moved from Brandenburg, a largely rural state that surrounds the capital Berlin, and flooding of uninhabited areas was planned.

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