E.in tornado as in the tropics hit several towns in the south-east of the Czech Republic on Thursday evening. Images of a huge windpipe that are spread on social media and reports from the affected region of South Moravia bear witness to the terrible devastation. Roofs were covered, cars and even buses thrown around.
Several hundred injured people who suffered fractures or grazes were treated in the hospital in the district capital of Hodonín (Göding). There are said to have been several fatalities, the exact number was not yet certain in the evening. The situation is like a war, said Health Minister Adam Vojtech on television.
“Like the Apocalypse”
Fire brigades, also from the neighboring countries Austria and Slovakia, and police units were called in to help and pioneer units of the Czech Armed Forces were put on standby. “Everything that has arms and legs goes there,” said Interior Minister Ján Hamáček.
In Hodonín, the storm damaged houses, cars and green spaces, tore down the roof of a sports hall and damaged the athletics stadium. A retirement home had to be evacuated and several of the old residents were injured and taken to hospital. Hospital director Antonín Tesařík said on Czech television that it looked like a battlefield. “It was an apocalypse.” People stood there covered with blood and tears. “They saved their lives and lost their homes.”
With drones and thermal imaging cameras
The storm apparently hit the communities of Hrušky (Birnbaum) with almost 1,500 and Moravská Nová Ves (Mährisch Neudorf) with around 2,600 inhabitants particularly hard. The deputy mayor of Hrusky told the ČTK news agency that half the place had been razed to the ground. “Only the walls remain, without a roof, without windows.” The people could not have protected themselves from the storm.
360 police officers from a special unit were dispatched to the Břeclav and Hodonín regions that evening. They are equipped with drones and thermal imaging cameras, among other things. The Czech fire and rescue service sent six search teams from Prague with special cameras that can be inserted into cavities and other devices to locate people who have been buried. Dog rescue squadrons were also deployed.
The interior minister also performed his duties as deputy prime minister. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš was initially stuck in Brussels, where he took part in the EU summit. Babiš tweeted in the evening that he could not return to Prague because of the storm. Hamáček went to Brno to attend a meeting of the South Moravian Region Crisis Unit. President Miloš Zeman used Twitter to express his condolences to the citizens “who are faced with the dramatic consequences of the raging of the natural element” and thanked the mayors, governors and members of the government.
The heavy summer thunderstorms had been discharging over South Moravia since late afternoon. Pictures show some hailstones the size of a fist. Roads were blocked by fallen trees, the D2 motorway between Brno and Břeclav was closed because a high-voltage line had fallen onto the carriageway. At the baroque castle Valtice (Feldsberg), which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, many window panes shattered, the damage is said to amount to millions.