Flood-hit Hungary calls in army

Sunday, 9 April, 2000

The Hungarian army has been drafted in to shore up river banks in the east of the country, which has been hit by the worst flooding for years.

The government declared parts of eastern Hungary a disaster area, allowing the release of funding to combat floods. A state of emergency was declared in the region on Saturday.

Hungary's second largest river, the Tisza, and several tributaries have been flooding large tracts of land, destroying many homes and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people.

More than 300 soldiers and 1,600 locals were building dykes along the Tisza and its tributaries, where the situation was "critical" even after an emergency reservoir was opened, officials said.

Government floods co-ordinator Kalman Katona said about 2,700 km (1,700 miles) of dykes needed to be reinforced.

With melting snow and further rainfall predicted, rivers are expected to reach record levels by the beginning of the week, he said.

"The situation on the Tisza and its tributaries, along with further rainfall predicted, can cause flooding until the end of May," Mr Katona said.

Nearly 200,000 hectares (487,000 acres) of farmland have been flooded.

Hungary's emergency decree provided for temporary road closures and the evacuation of residents.

On Saturday, a 21-year-old man drowned when his boat capsized in the swollen Takta river.

In neighbouring Romania, officials said heavy rains which started on Wednesday had flooded thousands of houses.

At least five people are reported to have been killed - two in flash floods and three in flooded villages close to the border with Hungary.

The Tisza was one of several rivers polluted by a cyanide spill in Romania in February.

Original article