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Thousands of Romanians flee, Danube breaks defences

Written by: Staff

BISTRET, Romania, Apr 19 (Reuters) Thousands of Romanians were forced to abandon their homes today as the rising waters of the Danube river flooded more than 100 villages and threatened to destroy many others.

Hundreds of villagers in Bistret, southwestern Romania, crowded into schools and hospitals together with their livestock and poultry, as rescue workers raced to repair a breached dam that has been seeping water for days threatening several villages.

Further west, 500 people spent the night in army tents after the Danube, Europe's second longest river, flooded the village of Rast.

Authorities have evacuated nearly 7,000 Romanians so far, including more than 1,000 from Bistret, after the Danube hit its highest level in a century throughout the Balkans. Many more may have to flee if the river continues to rise.

''We will be forced to evacuate all the 10,000 villagers in the region, because the wind is blowing so hard and the sky is very cloudy, so we will have more problems,'' Bistret mayor Constantin Raicea told Reuters.

''Workers are bringing bread, fruit and water to the schools and hospitals where people are waiting ... and young people are looking after cattle and sheep which the villagers sent to the hills,'' he said.

The Danube, which flows from Germany through some of the biggest capitals in central and eastern Europe, has been rising for weeks due to heavy rains and melting snow.

Romanian authorities said torrential rains were expected to last until tomorrw morning with lighter rain continuing until next week.


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