Romanian authorities step up efforts to prevent flooding of major city on Danube

Monday, July 5, 2010

Rising Danube threatens Romanian city

BUCHAREST, Romania — Romanian authorities were stacking sand bags Monday along a 4.5-kilometer (2.8-mile) dike to prevent the river Danube overflowing its banks and flooding the city of Galati.

Deputy mayor Mircea Cristea said parts of the city of 300,000 people could be flooded to a depth of 3 meters (10 feet) if the river breaks through flood defenses. It has already reached its highest recorded levels and any flooding is expected by the end of the week.

Cristea said the area that is lower than the Danube is not highly populated, but is economically important, employing 12,000 people and producing 30 percent of the local GDP. He estimated losses could reach euro250 million ($307 million).

Authorities have plans to evacuate 8,500 people.

Recent flooding in Romania has already killed 23 people and about 18,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.

Emergency situations spokesman Alin Maghiar said aid was expected to arrive Monday from Austria and Belgium after Romania requested water pumps, generators and other flood relief equipment.

Prime minister Emil Boc said an evaluation of losses so far will be done by July 15 and submitted to the European Union’s Solidarity Fund.

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