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Torrential Rains Kill in Europe

August 8, 2002

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VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ Torrential rains in Europe inundated Austrian villages Thursday, swept away campers on Russia’s Black Sea coast, flooded London’s subway system and battered vineyards and olive groves in northern Italy. At least five people were killed in some of the continent’s worst flooding in decades.

On Russia’s Black Sea coast, two bodies of flood victims were found in the village of Abrau-Dyurso, said Viktor Beltsov, a spokesman for Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry. At least 100 people were missing, but there were no details on their situation.

Rising waters submerged camps and resorts near the port of Novorossiisk, sweeping away people who were camping near the Black Sea, Beltsov said. He did not know how many people were missing, but he said 10 people were picked out of the water alive, two of them in grave condition.

Seven villages in the area were flooded, forcing evacuation of at least 440 people, said Oleg Grekov, spokesman for the Southern Federal District’s Emergency Situations Ministry.

In southwestern Romania, a 62-year-old man and an 8-year-old boy died as flood waters swept through villages.

Some 2,000 people were evacuated from flooded homes in southern Bohemia in the Czech Republic, where a 21-year-old student was killed when a falling tree crushed a cottage in Pisek, 55 miles south of Prague, Czech state-run radio reported.

Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla went to Ceske Budejovice, 95 miles south of the capital, where part of the town was under water.

In Austria, 350 soldiers, thousands of firefighters and scores of Red Cross volunteers were helping evacuate people from low-lying areas threatened by floodwaters in Upper Austria and the northern Waldviertel area of Lower Austria.

In London, heavy rain caused extensive flooding of the city’s subway and train system, closing several stations and cutting services before the morning rush hour.

The British capital suffered the worst of storms that swept England overnight, and rail operators warned commuters to expect long delays throughout the day.

Jay Merritt, spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies, said the flooding had created a ``huge backlog of services.″

In northern Italy, hail and heavy rain battered much of the region, damaging wine grapes, tobacco crops and olive groves. Nearly three inches of rain fell earlier in the week in Brescia, near Milan _ more than the average monthly rainfall for all of August.

In Bulgaria, flooding left dozens of villages without electricity. State radio reported two farmers were killed by lightning.

In Lower Austria, the river Kamp rose to its highest level since records were first kept in 1896, said Franz Hauer of the province’s Hydrographic Service. Helicopters lowered rescuers on ropes to save residents from rooftops in the Kamp Valley village of Zoebing.

Although at least one dam burst and officials were releasing water from others to ease the pressure, there were no immediate reports of injuries in Austria, where the flood damage was expected to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Update hourly