Disaster warnings have been issued for large parts of Central Europe and southern Germany amid fears that floodwaters could rise further on Monday after days of heavy rain.

With rivers threatening to burst their banks, thousands have been evacuated while governments have deployed defence forces to help in the effort to head off further parts of the region, including Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Poland and Austria from being engulfed by flood waters.

“Maybe we will see a development that could lead to a flood of an unprecedented scale”, Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer warned on Sunday.

Several people are thought to have died and dams have broken open, with the surge of water being compared to the so-called flood of the century that hit large parts of Germany and neighbouring countries in 2002.

Many roads and train lines as well as schools have been closed, while shipping has been stopped on large sections of the Rhine, Main and Neckar rivers in Germany.

In Austria, railway service stopped on a key East-West route connecting Central and Western European countries. Stranded travellers were put up in army barracks in Salzburg.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas and Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann have pledged full government support to those affected by the raging floodwaters in their countries.

In the meantime, the rising floodwaters are threatening the historic centres of towns and cities such as Prague.

The Prague fire brigade has erected flood barriers in an attempt to protect the Czech capital’s world-renowned Old Town from water spilling over from the swollen Vltava River.

The Prague Metro has also been shut down due to security concerns.

In the southern German city of Passau, located at a point where the three rivers converge, about 15,000 people are battling to contain the rush of flood waters that officials warn could hit levels not seen since 1954.

Numerous dykes burst in Poland’s Lower Silesia region, flooding mostly rural areas. Water authorities in Wroclaw warned that river levels could increase sharply on Monday.

A state of emergency was declared in Austrian regions along the Danube, where the river was rising on Monday but the peak of the flood wave was expected only on Tuesday.

Cities in Slovakia and Hungary were also reinforcing flood defences in the event of a sudden rise in the Danube River.

Meteorologists forecast that the rain should ease in the coming days.

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