BUDAPEST, April 4 (Xinhua) -- Hungary mobilized thousands of troops and set up a 1.5-million U.S. dollar cash fund to bolster the country's flood defenses on Tuesday as the Danube climbed to record levels in Budapest.

Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany dispatched 6,000 soldiers, 5,000 police, 1,000 firemen and 815 border guards to some of the worst-hit areas in the country.

Before the reinforcements were announced, some 25,000 people, half of them volunteers, were busily engaged.

Under an emergency plan, a 1.5-million dollar cash fund has been set up for emergency aid and the upper limit of the budget allocation for flood protection has been lifted, Gyurcsany added.

"If need be, the total general reserves of the budget can be utilized for flood control," Hungarian Finance Minister Janos Veres told reporters on Tuesday.

In the Hungarian capital, where a state of emergency was declared on Monday, the Danube reached a record 8.48 meters on Tuesday and was expected to crest at 8.65 meters by Wednesday morning.

The river's rise has so far exceeded the level reached during the catastrophic 2002 floods.

No shipping is allowed on the Danube except for ferries serving communities cut off by the floods. Some schools were shut and a few inaccessible polling stations had to be moved ahead of Sunday's general elections.

Recovery will be slow and there could be more flood surges on the Danube and the more unpredictable offshoot Tisza, Gyurcsany warned.

Budapest is safe up to a river level of 10 meters, Mayor Gabor Demszky said. "No reason for panic, the city is not in danger," said Demszky.

Authorities said Tuesday that river levels appeared to be easing in the north of the country, where a state of emergency also applies, together with one in the center of the country.

A 15-km section of Route 6, a main traffic artery running near the flooding Danube south of Budapest, was closed, so that wild animals trapped in the flooded plain could safely cross to the other side and head for higher ground.

President Laszlo Solyom on Tuesday visited the affected towns in northern Hungary.

He inspected schools, hospitals and local flood protection operations, and was briefed on the current accommodation and rescue efforts.

"According to the latest estimates, the total damage will exceed 10 billion forints (about 50 million dollars) and it will probably not be more than 30 billion (140 million dollars), but that is assuming no major dams bursting anywhere," Prime Minister Gyurcsany said.

The floods also hit other countries in Central Europe. At least a dozen people have lost their lives in floods and some were still missing.