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Families evacuated as floods sweep Europe

Six people were killed and thousands more evacuated from their homes as floods triggered by days of heavy rain swept through Europe yesterday.

In Southern Poland, officials said three people had died including a woman in her 60s, 45-year-old man who disappeared on his way home from a shop and another man who was carried away as he walked along a river with his son.

A 69-year-old woman also died in the neighbouring Czech Republic where hundreds had to be evacuated, including 90 from a hospital in the town of Bohumin, local media reported.

Thousands of families have also had their power cut off by the disruption which has swept across Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Serbia. And fresh storms are forecast in many areas of central and south eastern Europe already hit by a harsh winter.

The Polish interior ministry said it expected to evacuate up to 2,000 people from their homes in the Krakow area as floods submerged fields, roads and some railway lines.

The former Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau was closed yesterday (Monday) and staff were frantic trying to rescue artefacts as flood waters swelled the nearby River Sola.

"The archives, documents and all the materials at ground level are currently being taken up to the next floor," Jaroslaw Mensfelt, spokesman for the state-run Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, told Agence France Presse news agency.

In the Czech Republic, the government prepared to mobilise troops to help as water levels rose to the highest in decades. "Many places are facing a critical situation," regional governor Jaroslav Palas said. "I have agreed with (Defence Minister) Martin Bartak that he will send the army to the region if necessary."

In Northern Hungary, more than 2,000 people were forced from their homes. One man was killed there on Sunday after a wall collapsed onto a house. In the country’s third-biggest city, Miskolc, the mayor brought in emergency tap water restrictions and people were building makeshift dams using logs, rocks and debris.

"It's hard to predict when the situation will normalize because of the weather," said Csaba Csont, a spokesman for the water management authority in northern Hungary. “We have not seen such floods in the valleys of the (rivers) Sajo and Hernad since 1974,” he told. Reuter’s news service

Slovakia meanwhile put out the highest flood alert in the eastern district of Trebisov, where rivers flooded dozens of houses and 150 people had to be evacuated from a from a Roma camp.

Hayley attribution