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Three dead as tornado and tennis ball sized hailstones hit Czech Republic

·2-min read
Aftermath of rare tornado in Czech Republic (REUTERS)
Aftermath of rare tornado in Czech Republic (REUTERS)

A rare tornado has torn through the Czech Republic killing at least three people and injuring hundreds, according to authorities.

Strong storms and hail stones the size of tennis balls struck along the southern border on Thursday night, destroying parts of towns in its path.

Deadly winds of up to 206mph were reported around Hodonin, along the Slovak and Austrian borders and 167 miles southeast of the capital city of Prague, a Czech Television meteorologist said.

That would make it the strongest in the modern history of the central European nation and its first tornado since 2018.

A spokesperson for the South Moravia region’s ambulance service told the TV station that three people died in the storms and dozens were treated for injuries.

Jan Grolich, regional governor of South Moravia, described it as a “living hell” after visiting the area.

The tornado was formed late on Thursday during a series of strong thunderstorms that hit the entire country.

Seven towns and villages have been badly damaged, with entire buildings turned into ruins and cars overturned. Over 120,000 households were without electricity.

Some 360 extra police officers were sent to the area together with the military.

Rescuers from across the country came to help, joined by their counterparts from nearby Austria and Slovakia.

Drones and helicopters were used in a desperate attempt to search the rubble.

One person died of injuries in the hospital in the town of Hodonin.

The regional rescue service said more people likely died.

“It’s a huge tragedy,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis said. Mr Babis was in Brussels to attend an EU summit and was planning to visit the damage-hit region on Friday.

Marek Babisz, deputy mayor of Hrusky, told Czech public radio half of his town was almost completely destroyed.

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

“There’re injured, it’s really terrible.”

Workers of emergency services rested amid debris in the market town of Moravska Nova Ves, after having worked through the night.

An official of the Hrusky district said half of the town was practically levelled to the ground.

On Thursday, a twister struck in neighbouring Poland in the southern Malopolska province. One person was injured and roofs were damaged, according to local media.

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