Rare tornado kills five people, injures more than 100 and destroys parts of several towns in Czech Republic as buildings are battered by 200mph winds
- Powerful storms reduced houses to rubble and ripped roofs off buildings in southern towns around Hodonin
- The tornado reached wind speeds of above 206mph with flashes of lightning and hail the size of tennis balls
- At least five dead and scores injured while half of one village, Hrusky, was practically levelled to the ground
A rare tornado struck along the Czech Republic’s southern border on Thursday, killing five people, injuring more than 100 and destroying parts of several towns as the buildings weer battered by 200mph winds.
The strong storms reduced houses to rubble, ripped roofs off buildings, flattened trees and overturned cars in scenes officials have described as being ‘like in warzone’.
The tornado, reported in towns around Hodonin, along the Slovak and Austrian borders and 167 miles southeast of the capital of Prague, could have reached windspeeds above 206mph, a Czech Television meteorologist said.
That would make it the strongest in the modern history of the central European nation and its first tornado since 2018.
A rare tornado struck along the Czech Republic’s southern border on Thursday, killing five people, injuring more than 100 and destroying parts of several towns as the buildings weer battered by 200mph winds
The strong storms reduced houses to rubble, ripped roofs off buildings, flattened trees and overturned cars in scenes officials have described as being ‘like in warzone’
Damaged cars stand among debris in the aftermath of a rare tornado that struck and destroyed parts of some towns, in Mikulcice village
The tornado and hail the size of tennis balls struck several towns and villages including Breclav and Hodonin, where in addition to causing injuries the extreme weather destroyed a retirement home and the local zoo.
At least five people died as a result of the storms and at least 100 more are injured, reports Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung.
Czech TV reported as many as seven small towns were ‘massively’ damaged, citing an emergency services spokesperson. Deputy Mayor of Hrusky said half of the town was practically levelled to the ground.
‘Only the walls remain, with no roof, no windows,’ he told the CTK agency.
People walk among debris of damaged houses and cars in the aftermath of a rare tornado that struck in Mikulcice village
A house was reduced to rubble in Mikulcice village after the tornado swept across southern parts of the Czech Republic
The tornado hit several villages in the Mikulov, Hodonin and Breclav areas.
Search and rescue teams worked throughout the night to find those trapped under rubble as the high winds destroyed buildings.
‘There is great chaos here, great panic,’ a resident from the southern village of Luzice told the Kronen Zeitung, as many houses are reportedly in danger of collapsing.
The Czech army have been deployed to the southern towns, as well as emergency units from neighbouring Austria and Slovakia.
The tornado also caused extensive power outages and traffic disruptions, with fallen power lines closing a major motorway connecting Prague with the Slovak capital Bratislava.
A total of 78,000 households and companies were left without power on Friday morning.
Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said the situation was ‘very serious’ and he expected ‘lost lives’.
‘All available rescue units are in action or moving to the Hodonin region where several municipalities have been hit by a tornado,’ he wrote in a tweet.
Video footage from the region on social networks showed destroyed buildings and cars, shorn tree stumps and several fires with thick black smoke.
‘It’s living hell,’ regional governor Jan Grolich said after visiting the region.
The Czech news agency CTK quoted the mayor of Hrusky as saying that half of his village had been razed to the ground.
The storms passing over the Czech Republic forced Prime Minister Andrej Babis to remain in Brussels following an EU summit as a landing in Prague would have been too dangerous.
In neighbouring Poland, a twister struck the southern Malopolska province on Thursday, damaging roofs and injuring one person according to local media.
Tornadoes are rare in the Czech Republic, with the last notable one dating to 2004 when around 50 houses were damaged in the eastern town of Litovel.