City authorities ordered the evacuation of around 23,000 people from the low-lying areas on the east side of the river as a precautionary measure.

As the flood-swollen Elbe river continued to rise dramatically and wrecked havoc along its northward surge, several thousand more residents have been evacuated in Germany from areas facing the possibility of being submerged.

A dam collapsed on Sunday close to the area where the Elbe meets its tributary the Saale triggered a torrent of flood waters and inundated several villages as well as the town Aken. Rescue teams used army helicopters and amphibious tanks to remove many residents from their flooded homes.

The situation in Magdeburg, state capital of Saxony Anhalt, remained critical as the flood level reached a new record of 7.48 metres, compared to the Elbe’s normal level of 2 metres and 6.7 metres peaked at the last major flooding in 2002.

City authorities ordered the evacuation of around 23,000 people from the low-lying areas on the east side of the river as a precautionary measure.

Hundreds of soldiers, rescue workers and volunteers struggled to shore up several dykes in Magdeburg in a stretch of 40 km amidst mounting concern that some of them may not withstand the pressure from the swollen river for a long time.

Elsewhere in the city, efforts were continued to strengthen the flood defences around a power transmission station, which supplies electricity to the entire city.

German President Joachim Gauck on Sunday visited some of the cities in eastern Germany, which are slowly recovering from the massive flooding of the past days and praised the efforts of the residents, soldiers and volunteers to cope with the situation. He issued an appeal for more solidarity with the flood victims and called for generous donations to help them recover speedily from the devastation caused by the floods.

Further downstream the river, the towns of Wittenberge, Lauenberg and Hitzacker are bracing for massive flooding in the coming days. In Wittenberge, the Elbe already crossed the 2002 flood level of around 7.35 metres. Around 1,500 residents of Wittenberge have been asked by the authorities to leave their houses.

German authorities said they are taking seriously an anonymous threat sent to some newspapers by a suspected left radical group to damage sections of the dykes and ordered police patrols and surveillance to protect them, according to media reports.

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