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More People Flee Polish Floods

July 30, 2001

KAMIEN, Poland (AP) _ A dike burst along the surging Vistula River in southeastern Poland early Monday, forcing hundreds of people to flee their homes. Emergency workers and troops stacked sandbags to keep the floodwaters from reaching two villages.

Some 1,500 residents of Kepa Gostecka and Kepa Solecka were evacuated by bus after floodwaters breached the dike near Kamien at 5:30 a.m., said national fire spokesman Witold Maziarz.

By midday, the breach had grown to 40 yards. More than 500 emergency workers and troops were laboring to build a protective wall of sandbags, with the help of residents in the villages 100 miles southeast of Warsaw.

``I’m 40 years old and I haven’t seen such high water,″ said Mirolsaw Pucicki, a farmer who loaded his tractor with sand to help reinforce the dikes. ``Nobody expected the dike to break here.″

Floodwaters have been surging along the Vistula since flash flooding last week, and were expected to reach Warsaw by late Monday. The flood wave measured 65 miles.

On Sunday, 1,800 people were moved by boat, bus and private car from six villages flooded after the Vistula and a tributary broke through saturated dikes farther south at Zalesie Gorzyckie and Zlota.

Storms and torrential rains have swept across Poland since July 10, flooding property in the Baltic port city of Gdansk and sweeping away houses in southern Poland. Twenty-five people have been killed and thousands forced from their homes.

The floods are the worst since the summer of 1997, when storms and rampaging rivers swamped 46,000 homes, killed 55 people and caused an estimated $3.4 billion in damage.

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