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Thousands Flee Homes in Eastern Europe to Escape Record Flooding


Thousands of people are being evacuated across Eastern Europe because of heavy flooding. Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Hungary have declared a state of emergency in flood-stricken regions.

As the floodwaters keep rising, officials in Romania are sounding alarms to warn villagers who live close to the Danube River that they must leave their homes. Many days of heavy rain and the melting of this winter's record snows have combined to send the Danube, the region's largest river, to the highest levels in more than 100 years.

On Monday, over three-thousand people were evacuated from the village of Rast and surrounding territory in southern Romania after the river breached a dam and flooded the area.

In many parts of the Balkans, beleaguered emergency crews and soldiers are struggling to keep embankments and sand barriers from giving way.

More than 44,000 hectares in southern Romania's wheat and corn growing regions are already under water. Officials say they will flood another 26,000 hectares this week to help protect heavily populated areas. Many people in the affected areas are poor farmers living in rundown homes without insurance.

In neighboring Bulgaria, several port cities have been flooded. In Serbia several towns and villages are also trying to cope with floods. Even parts of the capital, Belgrade, located near the Sava River and the Danube, have been submerged, including the city's ancient fortress.

Hungary is also suffering under heavy flooding. Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurscany has rushed to oversee rescue efforts in central Hungary because of the flooding along the country's second largest river, the Tisza.

Mr. Gyurcsany, speaking in the central town of Szolnok, urges people to remain calm. He says he is confident that the floods will be contained and that the government has earmarked enough funds to supply emergency aid.

Flooding in the Balkans last year left dozens of people dead. This year officials in the region say they are doing all they can to keep the death toll down.

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