5 dead, hundreds injured by rare tornado in Czech Republic
PRAGUE – A rare tornado considered the most devastating tornado in the Czech Republic’s modern history has ravaged the southeastern part of the country, killing at least five and injuring hundreds, rescue services and the United States said on Friday. police.
The tornado touched down on Thursday evening as strong thunderstorms hit the country. Seven towns and villages sustained heavy damage, including buildings turned to rubble and overturned cars. The thunderstorms were accompanied by hail which in some cases was as big as tennis balls.
More than 40,000 households remain without electricity in the south-east of the country.
Some 360 additional police have been dispatched to the area, along with army troops. Rescue teams from across the country were joined by their counterparts from neighboring Austria and Slovakia.
They used drones, helicopters and sniffer dogs to search the rubble.
Police said at least five people were found dead, but regional government chief Jan Grolich said he would expect the death toll to rise.
“It is a huge tragedy,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis said. Babis was in Brussels to attend an EU summit and planned to visit the affected region on Friday. He said he asked the EU for help.
“I would like to offer my condolences to the families of the victims,” Babis said. “As a government we will do everything we can to help people because this is a real apocalypse.” He said some 2,000 buildings were damaged.
Hrusky’s deputy mayor, Marek Babisz, told Czech public radio that half of his town had been almost completely wiped out.
“The church is towerless, the primary school has no roof and insulation, all that remains are walls of what used to be houses … It’s really terrible.”
Meteorologist Martin Setvak said it was the most devastating tornado in the country’s modern history. He said it’s still unclear whether this was a single twister or multiple independents.
According to Setvak, the country experienced between one and seven tornadoes per year until 2020, but all were relatively small.