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Europe flooding - Elbe River surges into Dresden

Residents and emergency crews had worked through the night to fight the floods in Dresden. The German military and the national disaster team sent more support in a frantic effort to sandbag levees and riverbanks as floodwaters that have claimed 16 lives since last week surged north.
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© AP
A man cleans the bank of river Elbe in front of the historical bridge Blaues Wunder in Dresden
"Everybody's afraid but the people are simply fantastic and sticking together," said Dresden resident Silvia Fuhrmann, who had brought food and drinks to those building sandbag barriers.

The Elbe hit 28 feet, 9 inches around midday - well above its regular level of 6 1/2 feet. Still, that was not high enough to damage the city's famous opera, cathedral and other buildings in its historic city centre, which was devastated in a flood in 2002.

Germany has 60,000 local emergency personnel and aid workers, as well as 25,000 federal disaster responders and 16,000 soldiers now fighting the floods.

Further downstream, the town of Lauenburg - just southwest of Hamburg - evacuated 150 houses along the Elbe, n-tv news reported, as the floodwaters roared toward the North Sea.

Bizarro Earth

German town sees worst flooding in 500 years as rains paralyze Europe, kill 8

Flooding
© Vineoflife.net
Passau - Swollen rivers gushed into the old section of Passau in southeast Germany on Monday, as water rose in the city to levels not seen in more than five centuries.

The city was one of the worst hit by flooding that has spread across a large area of central Europe following heavy rainfall in recent days. At least eight people were reported to have died and nine were missing due to floods in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.

"The situation is extremely dramatic," Herbert Zillinger, a spokesman for Passau's crisis center, told The Associated Press.

Much of the city was inaccessible on foot and the electricity supply was shut down as a precaution, he said. Rescuers were using boats to evacuate residents from flooded parts of the city.

But with water from the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers relentlessly pouring into the city, water was advancing into previously dry streets - in one case going from dry to ankle-deep within half an hour. Markers set in 1954, when the city suffered its worst flooding in living memory, have disappeared beneath the rising water.

Cloud Precipitation

Floods: Tips for preparation and survival

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Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States, however not all floods are alike. Some floods develop slowly, while others such a flash floods, can develop in just a few minutes and without visible signs of rain. Additionally, floods can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting entire river basins and multiple states.

Flash floods can occur within a few minutes or hours of excessive rainfall, a dam or levee failure, or a sudden release of water held by an ice jam. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of roaring water carrying rocks, mud and other debris. Overland flooding, the most common type of flooding event typically occurs when waterways such as rivers or streams overflow their banks as a result of rainwater or a possible levee breach and cause flooding in surrounding areas. It can also occur when rainfall or snowmelt exceeds the capacity of underground pipes, or the capacity of streets and drains designed to carry flood water away from urban areas.

Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live or work, but especially if you are in low-lying areas, near water, behind a levee or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds or low-lying ground that appear harmless in dry weather can flood.

Cloud Precipitation

Rescuers winch families to safety in German flood town

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A flooded hamlet near Deggendorf, southern Germany, on Wednesday.
Rescuers used helicopters to pluck families from rooftops in the southern German town of Deggendorf on Wednesday as the Danube flood crisis continues.

Heart - Black

Endangered elephant killings rising in Indonesia

Killings of endangered elephants are rising in Indonesia as authorities fail to stop poaching

Poisoning or shooting killed many of the 129 critically endangered elephants that have died on Indonesia's Sumatra island in less than a decade, highlighting weak enforcement of laws against poaching, an environmental group says.

WWF Indonesia said killings of Sumatran elephants are on the rise, with 29 either shot or poisoned last year, including 14 in Aceh province. The group said Tuesday that no one has been convicted or jailed in the deaths that were counted in Riau province since 2004.

The report came three days after two dead Sumatran elephants were found near a paper plantation in Riau, allegedly poisoned by poachers. Another elephant was killed last month near Tesso Nilo national park and its tusks were hacked off. An autopsy found a plastic detergent wrapper in its belly filled with poison.

The group said 59 percent of the dead elephants were definitely poisoned, 13 percent were suspected to have been poisoned, and 5 percent were killed by gunshots. Others died from illness or other causes, or the reason for their death was unknown.

Cloud Precipitation

Flooding forces evacuations in Germany, Czech Rep

A raging flood wave that inundated parts of Prague is now heading north toward Germany, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people and leading to concerns about the safety of chemical plants.
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© Associated Press/Markus Schreiber
Two men in a boat cross the flooded market place of the city of Wehlen at the river Elbe , Germany, Tuesday, June 4, 2013. After heavy rainfalls, swollen rivers flooded areas in Germany, Austria , Switzerland and Czech Republic.
More than 19,000 people have been evacuated from the flooding that has affected half of the Czech Republic, said firefighters spokeswoman Nicole Zaoralova. Some 3,000 people had to leave their homes in Usti nad Labem on the Elbe river near the German border where the waters were still on the rise Wednesday. High waters have already submerged parts of the city as well many other towns along the Elbe, the biggest river in the country.

They are also threatening major chemical factories, including one that released toxic chemicals into the Elbe during the devastating floods of 2002. The plants have been shut down as a precaution and chemicals removed, authorities said. Czech public television said a barrier that protects one chemical plant in Lovosice was leaking Wednesday and it was not immediately clear if it might be completely flooded.

Cloud Precipitation

Record floods leave eastern Germany in tense waiting game

Record floods in southern Germany have subsided to some extent in certain areas. Other parts of the country continue to hold their breath as the worst flooding may still be to come.For some residents in southern Germany, Wednesday marks the first day they can begin assessing the damage of the floods that have hit wide swathes of the country. For others, Wednesday could see the worst flooding yet.
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The eastern German city of Dresden is one of the places where citizens are bracing for the worst. Over 600 people have been evacuated there as water levels are expected to rise to 8.27 meters (27.1 feet) - well above normal levels of around two meters.

Across the border in the Czech Republic, the story is the same: the cities of Usti-nad-Labem on the Elbe river are also expected to see peak flood stages. The same rush of water is expected to hit Dresden downriver on the Elbe.

Magdeburg, which also lies on the Elbe, is expecting water levels to rise nearly 5 meters (16.4 feet) above normal. A state of emergency has been declared there, and other cities along the Elbe in German state of Saxony are taking similar precautions.

Bizarro Earth

5.3 Magnitude earthquake shakes Hawaii but no tsunami

The U.S. Geological Survey is revising the magnitude of an earthquake off the southeast coast of Hawaii to 5.3.

Tuesday afternoon's earthquake was centered about 34 miles (55 kilometers) southeast of Pahala on the Big Island, at a depth of about 25 miles (40 kilometers). Officials say it did not expected to generate a tsunami.

"The earth is very sound down there there's not a lot of cracks, therefore waves travel very efficiently through the material," USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Seismic Network manager, Wes Thele told KHON2.com.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira says there are no immediate reports of damage.

The USGS reported earlier that the quake's magnitude was 5.6.

People as far away as Maui and Oahu reported weak shaking to the USGS. The Oahu Department of Emergency Management says some areas may have experienced strong shaking.

Kevin Dayton, the executive assistant to the mayor, says he felt a large jolt in the county building in Hilo.

Cloud Lightning

Cape of storms: Western Cape, South Africa hit by storms, hail, snow

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© YouTube/Creative Commons
Hail coats Cape Town, South Africa as a cold front hit on Sunday, June 2, 2013.
Bitter cold conditions, heavy rains and hail have wreaked havoc in Cape Town, South Africa, with a new cold front set to arrive on Monday. The mountains close by have seen heavy snowfall.

Wilfred Solomons-Johannes of Cape Town Disaster Management told the media that 2,266 people have been affected by floods on the Cape Flats. Around 550 houses have been damaged in Bishop Lavis, Guguletu, Hout Bay, Khayelitsha, Philippi and Strand.

In Athlone, Elsies River, Langa and Parow Valley, roofs were blown off houses.

Cape Town mayor, Patricia De Lille called for "extraordinary emergency arrangements".

Bizarro Earth

1 million people living under the threat of Congo's Mount Nyiragongo volcano

Eleven years after an eruption of Mount Nyiragongo devastated the sprawling lakeside city of Goma, killing hundreds of people, eastern Congo's armed conflict is preventing scientists from predicting the volcano's next deadly explosion. With its plume of ash and steam reaching high into the sky, the brooding Nyiragongo is one of the world's most active volcanoes and a constant menace to the city of 1 million people, whose streets are still scarred by solidified lava. Attempts to monitor the volcano's activity have been dangerously curtailed by the M23 rebel group which has controlled its lush, forested slopes for the past year. Observation equipment has been looted by armed groups and the area around Nyiragongo is off-limits as rebel fighters defend their strategic positions overlooking Goma.
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"What happened in 2002 will happen again. We just don't know when," Celestin Kasereka Mahinda, a volcanologist at the Goma observatory and head of a national committee charged with planning for natural disasters. Kasereka and his colleagues gave two months' warning before the last eruption but authorities ignored them. People only began to evacuate as the first fingers of lava probed their way into the town's densely populated residential areas. Goma's airport is still surrounded by lava blocs as big as cars, excavated after the runway was swallowed by molten rock. Kasereka used to conduct weekly checks on Nyiragongo, one of only three volcanoes in the world to have a permanent lava lake. "Surveillance is very reduced so the risk has become very big," he said.