The Elbe River in Dresden rose to over 29 feet early Friday as the surge of water that swept through Prague earlier in the week continued on its destructive path. Dozens of rivers across Europe have burst their banks after days of unusually heavy rains.
At least 103 people have died from Europe’s flooding, which has affected parts of Russia, Romania, Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic. The most deaths were in Russia, where 59 people have died, many of them tourists vacationing on Russia’s Black Sea.
Dresden authorities struggled to evacuate some 33,000 residents as well as protect cultural landmarks including the famous Semper Opera in the city center. Emergency crews attempted to pump water out of the 19th century building but gave up as the tide continued to rise. Officials in Dresden said the water levels are expected to crest on Saturday.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder called the floods a catastrophe and repeated an earlier pledge of millions of dollars in aid to affected areas.
In Prague, where floodwaters crested on Wednesday, officials were still refusing to let people return to the historic Old Town Friday, for fear that the intense flooding may have damaged the structural integrity of buildings and streets in its path.