Another day of battling floodwaters awaited thousands in Central Europe and Germany on Tuesday, with more deaths feared as rivers across the region reach levels not seen in centuries.
Flooding since the weekend has so far claimed at least nine lives and led to mass evacuations. Several others have been reported missing as a result of the floods, which cover an area stretching from southern Germany, through to Poland, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Austria.
Large parts of Austria braced for the Danube to reach its high water mark on Tuesday.
It was unclear whether newly installed protective barriers would be sufficiently high to hold back the river. “It will be a matter of centimetres”, an official at the Lower Austria provincial administration said about the 11-metre walls.
In Upper and Lower Austria, hundreds of homes have been evacuated, and some towns have already been flooded.
Meanwhile, the situation improved in Austria’s western regions, and work was underway to clean up hundreds of mudslides.
Slovakia and Hungary have also been forced to strengthen their flood defences to head off the threat of a surge of water along the Danube.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is to visit some of the hardest-hit areas in Germany on Tuesday, including the Bavarian town of Passau, which officials say is facing the worst floods since the start of the 16th century.
The floods, which follow days of torrential rain, has already resulted in shipping coming to a halt along parts of the regions’ network of rivers and led to the closure of several roads and rail lines, which have been engulfed by water.