Czech Republic: Deadly tornado sweeps through villages

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A tornado has swept through several villages in the Czech Republic, killing four people and leaving more than 100 others injured.

Thursday night’s storm blew the roofs off buildings in the south-eastern Breclav and Hodonin districts, uprooting trees and overturning cars.

Winds of at least 219km/h (136 mph) were recorded and the worst-hit areas were said to look like a war zone.

“It’s living hell,” said South Moravia regional governor Jan Grolich.

Hail stones the size of tennis balls were reported, and local officials said a string of villages had suffered considerable damage along a 25km (15-mile) stretch of road between Breclav and Hodonin.

The government said around 1,000 homes had been affected and local authorities were working to provide accommodation for people whose roofs had been destroyed.

Michaela Bothová, a spokeswoman for the South Moravian rescue service, told Czech TV that dozens of people had been taken to hospital by medical services and three of them had died. Czech media later said the number of fatalities had gone up to four.

Rescue teams from across the country, as well as from neighbouring Austria and Slovakia, have been deployed and tens of thousands of people have been left without power.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who is in Brussels for an EU summit, described what had happened as an apocalypse.

At least a third of the houses in the village of Hrusky, with a population of 1,600 people, were destroyed by the tornado. Only 15% of buildings had been untouched, said deputy mayor Marek Babisz.

“The church is without the tower, the elementary school has no roof and insulation any more, only walls remained from what were houses,” he told Czech public radio.

The tornado and hailstones struck the border town of Hodonin, damaging an old people’s home and destroying the local zoo.

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