by Staff Writers
Prague (AFP) June 04, 2013
Tourists curious to see cresting floodwaters inundated the historic centre of the Czech capital Prague Tuesday as the river Vltava peaked amid heavy flooding that has hit central Europe killing at least 11 people.
Prague mayor Tomas Hudecek bemoaned "an excessive surge in flood tourists" amid reports some had attempted to dismantle anti-flood defences to take home as souvenirs.
Foreigners and Czechs alike snapped pictures of angry muddy waters that surged under the capital's historic Charles Bridge, prompting popular Czech news website novinky.cz to screech "Crazy Tourists".
The 14th-century iconic Prague landmark known for its sculptures has been off limits since Sunday, with a 25-tonne excavator working on top of it to remove flood debris threatening to damage its pillars.
"It's not so flooded really, it doesn't affect most of the city, it's just the river," said Brent Tuttle, a young tourist from Los Angeles, who arrived in Prague on Sunday.
Sandbagged doorways and flood defences -- of which Prague has installed 17 kilometres (10.5 miles) -- have become as popular an attraction for snapshots as the city's historic sights.
The flood wave on the Vltava that swept through Prague Tuesday surged north to the Elbe and bore down on hard-hit Germany.
Floodwaters claimed at least eight lives across the Czech Republic and displaced around 8,000 people as of Tuesday, with two deaths recorded in Austria and another casualty in Switzerland.
Prague hosted more than 5.4 million tourists last year.
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