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Landslides caused by heavy rains cut off villages in Austria

VIENNA (AFP) – Rescue workers were trying to reach three villages in western Austria yesterday after landslides due to heavy rains cut off access, according to the Red Cross.

Thunderstorms in the night from Tuesday to yesterday led to streams in the mountainous Villach-Land district in Carinthia state to burst their banks, causing landslides of mud and debris, said spokeswoman Melanie Reiter for the Red Cross in the state which borders Italy and Slovenia.

“Three villages have been completely cut off. The army and firefighters are trying to clear the streets” to be able to access the villages, she told AFP.

She could not immediately say how many people have been affected. As of now, there were no reports of anyone injured, but several houses are believed to have been damaged, she said.

“It looks very bad up there,” she said.

Elsewhere in the district, photos showed debris-strewn streets as rivers burst their banks and the wind swept off roofs, according to the Austrian news agency APA.

APA quoted Gerhard Hohenwarter from the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics that in Arriach, one of the villages that was cut off, and other places in the region it “rained as much in just a few hours as it does for the entire month for an average June”.

As elsewhere in Europe, Austria is experiencing a heat wave with authorities warning of high temperatures and thunderstorms.

Authorities have issued extreme weather warnings around the globe, while experts warn that these phenomena were more evidence of the impact of climate change.

Damages caused by landslides in Treffen, Austria. PHOTO: AFP