Czech Rainfall Threatens Prague With Flooding, Railway Closures

Heavy rains prompted flood warnings across the Czech Republic’s western region, forcing authorities to close nine rail lines, evacuate homes and erect flood barriers in Prague for the first time since 2002.

“The situation is very serious,” acting Prague Mayor Tomas Hudecek said, the news website Novinky.cz reported today as firefighters inspected breaches along the banks of the Vltava River, including in the center of the Czech capital. Two rafters on a swollen river west of Prague were missing. City officials have called an emergency meeting.

As much as 30 millimeters of rain pounded the countryside in northern Bohemia in 12 hours yesterday, while western Bohemia had as much as 20 millimeters of precipitation, according to the state weather service.

The rainfall is raising the specter of a repeat of the 2002 floods that crippled Prague, paralyzing the subway system for weeks and costing the city more than 24 billion koruna ($1.2 billion) in damage. Whole neighborhoods, such as the riverside Karlin and Mala Strana districts, were left under water, while animals drowned in the Prague Zoo.

This weekend, authorities issued flood warnings in Prague, Plzen, the home of SABMiller Plc (SAB)’s Pilsner Urquell brewery, and surrounding regions.

On the Vltava, the river that bisects Prague, the water level is expected to trigger the third and highest stage of alert at about noon, said Iva Vojtkova, a spokeswoman for the Mayor’s office. A crisis staff to decide emergency measures is meeting in the city hall, she said.

Flooded Homes

The third stage of alert has been called in five areas of central Bohemia, Novinky.cz reported. Mountain river runoff flooded village homes west of Prague. In Beroun, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of Prague, authorities evacuated a retirement home at midnight and shut off electricity at the town’s flooded bus station.

In Prague, police closed a highway ramp in the southern part of the city and several roads leading out of town because of the flooding, according to the website of the Prague-based newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes. A tree fell in front of a commuter train, blocking the line that leads to the suburban communities of Kladno and Rakovnik.

South of the capital, the road leading into Cesky Krumlov, a Unesco-protected medieval city, was closed at the Eggenberg brewery, iDnes said.

To contact the reporters on this story: James M. Gomez in Prague at jagomez@bloomberg.net; Lenka Ponikelska in Prague at lponikelska1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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