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Rare Czech Republic Tornado Kills 3, Wipes Out Village

This photograph taken on June 24, 2021 shows damaged buildings in the village of Hrusky, 60 km south of Brno, South Moravia, Czech Republic, after it was hit by a tornado.

Search and rescue crews in the southeastern Czech Republic were going house to house Friday searching for survivors of a rare tornado that struck late Thursday, killing at least three people, injuring more than 100 and causing widespread damage.

Emergency crews from neighboring Austria and Slovakia joined the Czech army where the tornado struck along the Austrian border, about 270 kilometers southeast of Prague.

At least seven villages were severely damaged. The Czech news agency CTK quoted the mayor of Hrusky as saying that half of his village had been razed to the ground. Residents in the village of Mikulcice told the Reuters news service their entire village was destroyed.

A Czech television meteorologist said the tornado might have reached F3-F4 levels, on Fujita damage scale, with winds hitting 267-322 kiilometers per hour, making it the strongest tornado in the nation’s modern history. Hail stones as large as tennis balls reportedly accompanied the storm.

It was the first tornado reported in Czech Republic since 2018. Tornadoes were also reported in Slovakia and Poland Thursday. The storms struck while much of eastern Europe is seeing record heat.