In Budapest, Danube crests near record level

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BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Hungary was set Monday to contain the Danube river from overflowing in Budapest, while the economic toll grew in eastern Germany, where thousands of people along the Elbe have been forced to evacuate.

Hungarian authorities are "in control" of the Danube with 20,000 people, including more than 7,000 soldiers, working to erect barriers, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Monday on a river bank in the Hungarian capital. The Danube reached its record level Sunday and is now receding in Budapest.

"We are not surrendering a single dike; we're defending everywhere," Mr. Orban said. Parliament on Monday was considering his request to extend a state of emergency.

The floods, triggered by heavy rainfall, are the worst in central Europe since 2002. Ten people were killed in Czech Republic flooding, and at least six have died in Germany, while tens of thousands of people had to evacuate in the region. Rail, road and river traffic has been disrupted by the rising waters.

In Germany, more than 1,000 people were asked to leave their homes Monday after a levee broke on the Elbe's banks near Stendal, 78 miles west of Berlin. In Saxony-Anhalt state, where Stendal is located, the number of evacuees is 44,000 and rising, Anke Reppin, spokeswoman of the state's crisis center, said by phone Monday.

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