Floods on Hungarian-Ukrainian border

The death toll from the floods in Ukraine rose to six yesterday, the Emergency Situations Ministry says. More than 35,000 people have been evacuated and more than 21,300 houses were submerged in 216 towns and villages in the western Zakarpattia region. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma visited the area ysterday to meet with flood victims. The flooding has primarily been caused by melting snow on the hillsides of the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine, and aggravated by heavy rains. In the meantime, the rain-swollen Tisza River, separating Ukraine from Hungary, reached its highest level in more than 100 years, as thousands of troops and residents worked around the clock reinforcing dikes to protect villages, a Hungarian official is quoted by the AP as saying. The Tisza rose to 25 feet, less than half an inch higher than the previous record, set March 15, 1888, both at the village of Zahony, said Attila Bekesi, spokesman for the Ministry of Transport and Water Management. Zahony, 175 miles northeast of Budapest, is also a major border crossing between Hungary and Ukraine and is where the Tisza makes a sharp turn southward. Last year, the Tisza was contaminated after huge quantities of cyanide poured from the reservoir of a gold mine in Romania, near the Hungarian border.

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