Tornado destroys houses in Czech Republic

A suspected tornado left a trail of devastation in the southeastern Czech Republic on Thursday. According to an initial estimate by the fire department, there could be up to 150 people injured. In several villages, roofs were damaged, window panes were broken and cars were tossed about, the CT television station reported Thursday evening.

Several buses were overturned in the storm in southern Moravia, it said. All available emergency forces are on their way to the region, Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said: "Everything that has arms and legs is going there."Pictures and videos posted on social media showed a huge twister. Particularly affected were the two municipalities of Hrusky, with nearly 1500 inhabitants, and Moravska Nova Ves, with about 2600 inhabitants.

Hrusky's deputy mayor told the CTK agency that half the town had been leveled to the ground. "All that remained were the walls, with no roof, no windows," he said. People could not have protected themselves from the storm, he added. Several rescue squadrons with dogs were on their way to the area to search for possible trapped people in buildings.

All evening, heavy summer thunderstorms passed through southern Moravia, which is known for its wine-growing regions. Emergency lines were overloaded. In the administrative districts of Breclav and Hodonin, hailstones the size of tennis balls fell, according to reports on social media. Millions in damage was caused to Valtice Castle, a Unesco World Heritage site. Numerous window panes shattered at the 17th-century baroque building.The D2 highway, which runs from Brno to Breclav, was impassable because a high-voltage line had fallen onto the roadway. Around 32,000 households were without electricity.

The government in Prague put army forces on standby for a possible relief mission. Two rescue helicopters were on their way from Austria. Neighboring Slovakia also offered assistance. The head of government, Andrej Babis, announced that he would not be able to return from Brussels, where he was attending the EU summit, because of the weather.


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