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‘Worst floods of all time’ hammer Central Europe, cancel river cruises

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Severe flooding caused by recent heavy rains continued to plague much of Central Europe Friday as government officials warned their citizens of impending danger.

“We are facing the worst floods of all time,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said.

The BBC reported that the Danube River was expected to crest this weekend in Budapest nearly a foot higher than the previous all-time high water mark, established in 2006.

The Hungarian National Disaster Management Department reported that 760 km (472 miles) of the Danube were under a flood alert, with Budapest expecting the worst of the flooding to hit there Monday.

The website of London’s Daily Mail newspaper reported that the flooding was forcing cruise companies to cancel river cruises popular with tourists. Viking River Cruises canceled cruises to and from Budapest scheduled to depart Sunday. The company also was being forced to alter itineraries for up to 16 other cruises.

Among the cruises offered by Viking that involve Budapest is the “Grand European Tour,” a 15-day trip from Amsterdam to Budapest with pricing from $4,312 per person. Another is the “Danube Waltz,” an eight-day cruise from Passau, Germany to Budapest.

Passau is among the German cities that have been hard hit by flooding. Much of the city’s historic center remained flooded Friday. The European Commission reported that the Danube and its tributaries were receding in most of Germany, except in the area from Straubing to Passau.

Elsewhere in Germany, the Elbe River was continuing to rise in the eastern part of the country and many of its tributaries were also swollen. German civil protection authorities reported that evacuations were underway Friday in the cities of Bitterfeld and Halle. Bitterfeld is a community surrounded by lakes near the Mulde River and Halle lies on the Saale River.

The worst of the flooding appeared to be over in Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, but has left many people homeless in its wake. The EC reported that more than 20,000 people in the Czech Republic had been forced to evacuate their homes and 700 municipalities were affected.

Getting there: If, for some odd reason, you wanted to travel to Budapest to see the flooding first-hand, you face a long journey. There are no non-stop flights from Chicago to Hungary. Most flights will involve one or two stops in cities like Zurich, Dusseldorf, or Munich.

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