Freak tornado in Czech Republic devastates towns and leaves five dead

At least 150 injured as wind speeds of up to 330km/h reduce area to a ‘living hell’

Three people were killed by a tornado in the village of Mikulcice, 60km south of Brno, in the Czech Republic. Footage of the aftermath showed multiple fires, demolished buildings, ruined cars and trees reduced to stumps. Video: Reuters


Czech officials say five people were killed and at least 150 injured when a freak tornado brought high winds and tennis ball-sized hailstones to the country’s southeast.

Winds of up to 330km/h ripped through towns in the Hodonin and Breclav districts along the Slovak and Austrian borders, southeast of Prague.

“It was an apocalypse,” said Dr Antonin Tesarik, director of Hodonin hospital, to the CTK news agency. “There was blood everywhere and helpless people in tears, who saved their lives but lost the roof over the head.”

Prague declared a state of emergency as footage of the aftermath showed multiple fires, demolished buildings, ruined cars and trees reduced to stumps.

South Moravia’s regional governor Jan Grolich described the scene, after a visit, as a “living hell”. Czech interior minister Jan Hamacek said “all available rescue units are in action”, with the focus on the Hodonin region.

“Everything with arms and legs is heading there,” he promised locals.

With support from the Czech army and teams from neighbouring Slovakia and Austria, crews were working to rescue people from the rubble, with many rural villages reporting vast swathes of destruction.

Czech news services said at least seven small towns were reporting “massive” damage with a zoo and a retirement home in one town completely destroyed.

In the village of Hrusky, home to 1,500 people, a local official told the CTK agency that half of the settlement’s buidings were gone, including the church tower: “All that’s left are the walls, without windows.”

Another mayor in a nearby village reported “huge chaos and panic” in the immediate aftermath of the tornado.

Curators at Valtice Palace, on the Unesco world heritage list, said the 17th century baroque structure had suffered extensive damage.

The effects of the tornado were felt far beyond the epicentre, with major traffic disruption between Prague and Bratislava. Fallen lines caused power outages in more than 30,000 households and blocked the D2 motorway from Brno to Breclav.

Czech prime minister Andrej Babis remained in Brussels on Friday following the European Council summit after meterological warnings predicted a hazardous landing in Prague.

In neighbouring Poland, a tornado hit the southern Malopolska province on Thursday, causing extensive building damage and injuring one person.