A rare tornado and heavy storms struck the Czech Republic’s southern border on Thursday, destroying parts of some towns, killing at least three and injuring dozens, emergency services and media said.
The tornado, reported in towns around Hodonin – along the Slovak and Austrian borders and 167 miles southeast of the capital Prague – may have reached wind speeds above 206 mph, a meteorologist from the Czech television.
That would make it the strongest in the modern history of the central European nation and its first tornado since 2018.
“It is a huge tragedy,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis said. Babis was in Brussels to attend an EU summit and planned to visit the affected region on Friday.
Heavy storms ripped roofs off houses and other buildings, blew up windows, overturned cars and scattered debris in the streets.
Emergency service workers rested among the rubble in the town of Moravska Nova Ves, after working through the night.
A spokesperson for the South Moravian region ambulance service told Czech TV that three people died in the storms and dozens were treated for injuries.
Czech television reported that seven small towns had been “massively” damaged, citing an emergency services spokesperson.
Marek Babisz, deputy mayor of Hrusky, told Czech public radio that half of his town was almost completely destroyed.
“The church has no tower, the primary school no longer has a roof and insulation, only the walls remain of what used to be houses. There are injuries, it’s really terrible.
Search and rescue teams have deployed to the region, with neighboring Austria and Slovakia also sending emergency units to help.
The Associated Press contributed.