Netherlands evacuates hundreds as flood fears rise
The authorities in the Netherlands ordered Friday the evacuation of about 800 people living in the north of the country fearing heavy rains could cause a dyke to collapse, police said.
"A dyke is threatening to break, and if it goes, the entire area will be flooded," said Ger Blokzijl, a spokesman for the police in Groningen.
He said residents of four villages lying on a canal to the east of the city have been ordered to leave their homes and that the evacuations began around 6:00 am (0500 GMT).
"If the dyke collapses it could trigger a deluge of water up to 1.5 metres (five feet) high," Blokzijl warned.
Heavy rains in the Netherlands over the past few days have caused water levels in the canals to rise, while high winds of up to 100 kilometres (60 miles) an hour have disrupted air, sea and rail transport.
Rainfall in the north of the Netherlands in the first few days of January has equalled the average total rainfall for the entire month, according to the meteorological office.
© 2012 AFP