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Flooding eases in Europe

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Flooding eases in Europe


It is being hailed as a key sign that things are getting back to normal in Switzerland. Now that flood waters have receded, the Gotthard Road Tunnel has reopened, allowing traffic to flow once again on a key north-south link through the Alps.

It had been closed for five days. In another indication that everyday life is resuming, residents who had been forced to flee are now heading home. In the capital Berne, help was on hand for those returning. However, some householders complained that lessons from the past had not been learned. Barbara Hayoz from the district council said she understood the disappointment. She said it was the second time in six years that the Matte area had been flooded. “Many things had been promised but not much was done,” she added. Across central Europe and the Balkans, dozens have been killed by the floods. In the hardest-hit part of Germany, a massive clean-up operation is underway. In the town of Kelheim on the Danube, diggers have been removing walls of sandbags put up near river banks. For many householders, picking up the pieces of their lives will be a major challenge. “Compared to the last flood in 1999, we escaped relatively lightly but there is still a lot of damage,” said resident Christian Schneider. “You can see for yourself how the entire basement was full of mud from the Danube.” The human cost of the floods has been highest in Romania. With over 30 people killed in the country since the start of the month, many are mourning their dead. The search for two missing people was continuing in the worst-hit area, Harghita. On Friday the body of a four-year-old girl was found. Health authorities are warning about the risk of epidemics with the sewage system under strain and hundreds of animal carcasses lying in swampy streets. The water levels should ease, with fine weather forecast from Monday. However the scars of August’s flooding will take a long time to heal.
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