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Thousands of homes evacuated along Germany's Elbe River

Thousands of homes are being evacuated along Germany's Elbe River as waters threaten to break through levees protecting several north German towns.

Flooding in Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary claims 22 lives

Thousands of homes are being evacuated along Germany's Elbe River as waters threaten to break through levees protecting several north German towns.

Authorities say some 8,000 people left their houses Tuesday in the Saxony-Anhalt town of Stendal.

The flooding in Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary has claimed at least 22 lives so far.  

A few kilometres upstream from Stendal, helicopters flew sandbags in to close a breach in a levee through which waters are streaming into the town of Fischbeck.

In neighboring Schleswig-Holstein state the old quarter of Lauenburg near Hamburg has been evacuated due to the rising waters of the Elbe.

In southern Germany waters were receding and authorities began debating how to pay for the flood damage, estimated at more than $14.5 billion US.

Over the weekend, around 23,000 people had to leave Magdeburg, as water levels in the Elbe rose to a record of 7.48 metres, around five metres above normal.

 German insurers are likely to face damage claims from current flooding in the country that are higher than the $2.4 billion seen in the Elbe river floods of 2002, insurance association GDV said on Monday.

 However, reliable estimates for the flood damage will only be available once the water has subsided and the damage can be inspected, the GDV said in a statement.

 

With files from Reuters