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Massive rescue operation on in Germany

Flooded homes in Germany.

Flooded homes in Germany.

MUNICH — Rescue in southern Germany have been using helicopters to pluck families from rooftops in the town of Deggendorf as the Danube flood crisis continues.

Thousands of people were moved from the Bavarian town as levees along the Danube and Isar rivers broke.

Floodwater is also threatening parts of Austria and the Czech Republic.

At least 12 people have died and two are missing as a result of the floods across the three countries, triggered by heavy rain following a wet spring.

Seven deaths were recorded in the Czech Republic and three in Germany, while two people were reported dead and two missing in Austria, according to a European Commission update early on Tuesday evening.

Parts of Germany have not seen such severe flooding in centuries. However, in the Czech Republic, the water level has stabilised in the capital Prague, where there had been fears of a repeat of disasters in 2002 and 1997.

Firefighter Alois Schraufstetter said the floodwater in Deggendorf was already three metres high. “This is a life-threatening situation,” he was quoted as saying by Germany’s DPA news agency.

Four farmers were rescued at the very last minute by a helicopter before their tractor was submerged, he added.

The level of the River Elbe in the historic German city of Dresden, where at least 600 people were evacuated, is not expected to peak until Thursday morning.

In another eastern city, Halle, streets were under water this morning. According to German news magazine Spiegel, it is the highest water level in the city in four centuries.

Meanwhile, the floods were receding in the south German city of Passau. People could be seen sweeping up muck from their streets.

In the Austrian city of Krems, emergency workers have been shoring up a dyke under threat from the swollen Danube.

Thousands of people left their homes in the Czech Republic in recent days as floodwater threatened to overwhelm flood barriers.

In the low-lying industrial city of Usti nad Labem, the River Elbe was spilling over the 10m-high (33ft-high) metal flood barriers.

The peak there was expected some time today.

The main rail link connecting Prague and Berlin in Germany has been underwater, with trains being diverted. (BBC)

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