Hungary floods recede but more expected

BUDAPEST, Apr 10, 2000 -- (Reuters) Water levels fell in eastern Hungary on Sunday after the worst floods in years, but work continued at full speed to strengthen dams amid warnings of fresh flooding, government officials said.

An emergency flood alert is in force along the Tisza river and its tributaries after heavy rains and melting snow. Traffic routes have been closed by water and more than 100 people have been evacuated.

But Transport, Telecommunications and Water Minister Kalman Katona said there would be no need for more large-scale evacuations after floodwater was diverted into an emergency reserve to reduce the danger.

Little rain is expected for the next week but meteorologists have warned of possible floods later in the month.

"We have enough time until the crest expected for between April 20 and carry out the needed protection work," Katona told reporters.

Dams raised during last year's record floods are now being built up still further in the expectation that water levels will reach new highs in coming weeks.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban declared an emergency alert in flood-stricken areas of eastern Hungary on Saturday.

Officials said 16,600 people would be needed for flood prevention work, which would cost about Ft 10.5 billion ($38.75 million).

Ministry officials said Romania had asked for help from Hungary after a dam on the Feher Koros river broke on the Romanian side of the joint border.

Water was flooding through a breach 200 meters (yards) wide and Hungarian officials had traveled to the area to assess the damage and see what aid could be given to Romania, the officials said.

The Tisza was one of several rivers polluted by spills of cyanide and heavy metals from Romania over the past month.

Katona said the floods would flush out some of the pollution that remained in the rivers, but would not threaten people living downstream since the concentration of toxic material was low.

Original article