Floods sweep through Prague, move towards Germany

PRAGUE (REUTERS) - Swathes of suburban Prague were under water on Tuesday after floods which have killed 11 people swept across central Europe, and the deluge moved towards Germany where more than 10,000 people have been forced from their homes.

Areas to the south and north of the Czech capital were submerged, including the city's zoo and horse racing track, in the worst flooding in a decade which followed days of heavy rain. But metal barriers erected along the Vltava river banks protected the historical city centre.

Forecasters said receding rains would help water levels to drop across the Czech Republic, but that parts of Germany, Slovakia and Hungary, would be hit in the coming days.

In Germany, about 10,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in low-lying areas of Saxony and thousands more from parts of Bavaria.

The 11 deaths since the weekend occurred across the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland and Germany, with the latest two reported in the south German town of Guenzburg, on the Danube.

Many rivers across the region have broken their banks and spilled across the countryside.

High water is likely to stop shipping on the Rhine in south Germany until at least Thursday morning, a state agency said.

Shipping was stopped over the weekend on southern sections of the river as rain caused a sharp rise in water level. The river remained closed to shipping south of Koblenz on Tuesday, the navigation authority in Baden-Wuerttemberg state said.

The European floods sent shares in reinsurers Munich Re and Hannover Re down by about 2.5 per cent on Monday, with markets anticipating big claims from property owners once the waters recede.

Officials said levels of the Vltava had likely peaked early on Tuesday in Prague, but thousands of people were evacuated from towns and cities downstream.