Death toll from tornado in Moravia climbs to five, neighboring countries sending help

PM Babiš has asked the EU for emergency funds, President Zeman has sent the Castle Guard to the region, and Slovakia and Austria have sent help.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 25.06.2021 14:07:00 (updated on 25.06.2021) Reading time: 5 minutes

Death and injury figures in Moravia are rising as the full extent of the impact of a tornado that hit South Moravia on Thursday night becomes apparent.

Five people are reported to have died due to the tornado that also dropped hail stones the size of tennis balls on the area of the towns of Hodonín and Břeclav in South Moravia. While rescuers originally counted three fatalities, two more people died later in the hospital.

Police spokesman Pavel Šváb did not give details on how and where the people died. "We have five confirmed fatalities," Šváb said.

Prague Firefighters posted photos of the village of Moravská Nová Ves, where they were deployed to look for survivors and stabilize the remaining structures. The village was among the worst hit by the storm. Hrušky, Lužice a Mikulčice were also heavily damaged.

Over 150 people were treated for injuries at hospitals, with about 60 requiring hospitalization. Dozens more were given first aid by emergency responders but not hospitalized.

Some 2,000 buildings have been damaged, in addition to infrastructure such as power lines. Estimates are already in the hundreds of millions of Czech crowns.

Czech PM, president respond

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has asked the President of the European Council Charles Michel and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen for help from the European Union's special funds for disasters. EU Commissioner Věra Jourová has stated that the EC is ready to help and is already in contact with the Czech authorities.

Babiš cut short a visit to Brussels so he can visit the South Moravian towns that were affected. He said the disaster was a sort of apocalypse of the Czech Republic he had never seen before.

“I send my sincere condolences to the families of the victims,” Babiš said.

Babiš said the storm had damaged some 2,000 houses and the damage amounted to "hundreds of millions" of crowns. “The damage is tremendous,” Babiš said.

Czech President Miloš Zeman said he is sending the Castle Guard to the area “to help citizens eliminate the consequences of the rampage of nature.” His spokesman Jiří Ovčáček also tweeted a list of ways to for people to give financial support to help those affected.

Finance Minister Alena Schillerová has immediately released CZK 10 million for use in the South Moravia.


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Police deployed to area

Czech Police have deployed hundreds of officers, helped by dog handlers and police school students, in the Hodonín area, and the situation is being monitored by six drones, too, police spokeswoman Petra Hrůzová said.

“We are managing and regulating the traffic, searching through the debris, looking for people who may have been left there,” Hrůzová said.

Drivers are asked to avoid the D2 highway, which is still closed near Breclav due to the fallen electric wires. Repairs of power lines and other rescue works are underway on the D1 highway in the direction to Brno, too. The Road and Motorway Directorate (ŘSD) warned that the integrated system rescue teams and military use the road, and urged drivers to avoid it.

South Moravian tornado by the numbers

  • 100,000,000+ CZK damage
  • 75,000 households without power
  • 2,000 homes damaged
  • 350 police members, 200 firefighters, and 500 volunteer firefighters on site
  • 153 injuries treated in hospitals
  • 30 Austrian ambulances and 2 helicopters in use last night
  • 11 Slovak ambulances deployed
  • 20 Czech railway lines disrupted
  • 6 police drones employed
  • 5 fatalities reported

Insurance companies have established special crisis teams and count with immediate advance payments to their clients. The aid to the disaster-hit clients is usually provided in summary procedure, the Czech Association of Insurance Companies wrote in a press release.

Uninvited volunteers asked to stay away

South Moravia Regional Governor Jan Grolich said after a meeting of the regional crisis staff that firefighters had already checked the most affected villages and he did not expect rescue workers to find any more injured or dead.

Grolich discouraged volunteers from going to the affected villages for now as structural analysts are still monitoring the stability of buildings and professional rescuers have to check the area first.

“We will certainly need volunteers, but only upon request,” he stressed, adding that those coming before being invited might cause further traffic difficulties in the area.

Slovakia, Austria already sending help

Babiš has also spoken about foreign aid with Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Slovakia and Austria already sent emergency personnel to South Moravia on Thursday night. Slovakia sent 11 ambulances to transport the injured. Over 30 Austrian ambulances and two helicopters were deployed in South Moravia at night, many rescuers were Austrian Red Cross volunteers.

Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová confirmed on Twitter that Slovakia was sending teams to help on the ground. 

Slovakia has offered to help accommodating people and is organizing a collection of essentials to help those affected by the tornado, Slovak Social Affairs Minister Milan Krajniak said.

Krajniak said Slovakia had free capacities of accommodation for children from institutions and for entire families. The Bratislava and Trnava regions have also offered their social care facilities.

“Along with our counterparts, we are ready to provide comprehensive psychological and consultancy aid in all the facilities,” Krajniak said.

Hospitals report over 150 injuries

The hospitals in Hodonín and Břeclav together have already treated 153 people who required the first aid or hospitalization, but the numbers of the injured are still increasing, Hodonín hospital officials told the Czech News Agency (ČTK).

So far, the Hodonín Hospital treated 83 people. of whom 45 people were hospitalized. Four patients are in the intensive care unit, and two at the anesthesiology and resuscitation ward., Hodonin hospital head Antonín Tesařík said. The Břeclav Hospital has treated roughly 70 people after the storm, hospital economic deputy head Tamara Drobíková said. Fourteen were hospitalized, with four placed in the intensive care unit. These figures are from before the two additional deaths were announced.

UNESCO World Heritage Site damaged

The tornado missed the Valtice Chateau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, wind, rain, and hail damaged the facade and windows. “When I see how they ended up elsewhere, I think that the damage is not so terrible, even though I think it will go into the millions,” caretaker Richard Svoboda told broadcaster Radiožurnál. The chateau will need to repair the roof, windows, and facade.

The storm also affected rail travel. Traffic was stopped or reduced on 20 lines, mostly in South Moravia.  

Power outages extended into Slovakia, where some 6,400 households were without electricity in the districts adjoining the Czech Republic.

How to support tornado victims in South Moravia

  • The Via Foundation has set up a public fundraiser on the Darujeme platform
  • The Assistance Endowment Fund has also set up a donations platform
  • Diocesan Charity Brno - send donations to account 4211325188/6800 with 2002 or donor SMS DMS DCHB 30, 60, or 90 to 87 777
  • Diocesan of the Czech Brethren Evangelical Church - donations to account 2100691426/2010 or SMS DMS DIAKONIEPOMOC 30, 60, or 90 to 87 777
  • ADRA Foundation - donations to account 66888866/0300 with variable symbol 390
  • Czech Red Cross - donations to account 333999/2700 with variable symbol 2101
  • Ground Forces Foundation of the Czech Army - donations to the account 1111001/0100.
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