At least five people died and more than a hundred were injured when a tornado and hailstones the size of tennis balls hit the Czech Republic’s south-east on Thursday night.
Video footage from the region on social networks showed buildings razed to the ground, tipped-over cars and buses, shorn tree stumps and several fires with thick black smoke.
“It’s living hell,” said the South Moravia regional governor, Jan Grolich, on Thursday after visiting the area.
The Czech news agency CTK quoted the mayor of Hrušky as saying that half of his village had been razed. The hailstorm also caused damage worth millions of euros to a baroque castle in the nearby town of Valtice, which is part of the Unesco-listed Lednice-Valtice cultural landscape.
“With some of the houses I can’t imagine them being repaired,” a rescue coordinator, Josef Koláček, told Seznam Zprávy newspaper. “Some of them will have to be rebuilt from scratch.”
An emergency services spokesperson told broadcaster ČT she estimated the number of injured people to be “between 100 and 150, including children and seniors.” A hospital in the town of Hodonín, on the Czech-Slovak border, said it had treated up to 200 injured people.
The interior minister, Jan Hamáček, said “all available rescue units are in action or moving to the Hodonín region, where several municipalities have been hit by a tornado.”
Austrian and Slovak rescuers were helping out and the Czech army has also been deployed.
The tornado and huge hailstones struck several towns and villages including Hodonín, where in addition to causing injuries the extreme weather destroyed a retirement home and the local zoo.
Fallen power lines led to the closure of a major motorway connecting Prague with the Slovak capital, Bratislava, and left about 75,000 people across the country without electricity.
The storms forced the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, to remain in Brussels after an EU summit because a landing in Prague would have been too dangerous.
In neighbouring Poland, a twister struck the southern Małopolska province on Thursday, damaging roofs and injuring one person, according to local media.
This region gets tornado but in F1 category only. Such an apocalyptic twister has never been experienced before… [Guardian]
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