German town sues Polish dam operator over flood

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The picturesque German town of Goerlitz is taking legal action against the operator of a dam in Poland that broke early this month, flooding its streets, lawyers said on Monday.

The failure of the 300-metre (985-foot) dam near Radomierzyce on August 7, swelling the Neisse River to its highest level -- around seven metres (23 feet) -- since records began nearly a century ago.

Sebastian Matthieu, spokesman for the local prosecutor's office, told AFP it had received "a complaint for negligence ... against the operator of the Turow power station which ran the dam at Witka lake."

The virtual tidal wave engulfed not only Goerlitz, but also its twin city on the Polish side of the river, Zgorzelec. Some 1,500 people in Goerlitz were evacuated, including residents of two senior citizens' homes.

Floods caused by torrential rain left 14 people dead and several others missing in central Europe over the same weekend, with rivers bursting their banks and dykes breached in Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic and Lithuania.

© 2010 AFP

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