Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Monday
People in Austria have been putting up sand bags to protect their homes. (Photo by FERENC ISZA / AFP)
Find out what's going on in Austria on Monday, with The Local's short roundup of today's news.

Flooding in Austria continues to cause chaos

The heavy rains and flooding which hit Germany last week came to Salzburg and Tyrol in Austria over the weekend, resulting in flood alarms sounding across the area, and people having to be rescued by helicopter, according to  Der Standard newspaper.

The flood waters are now receding and the clean-up operation is in place, according to broadcaster ORF. However, on Sunday afternoon there was localised flooding in Krems. 

Salzburg volunteers working around the clock

In the Salzburg region, volunteers have been working around the clock to put up sandbags in the Mittersill area, after water levels reached dangerous levels. News reports describe it as a 50-year flood event. The Salzach River has seven metre high flood protection barriers.

Behind these dams, the water reached a peak of  6.90 meters, measured from zero at the bottom of the Salzach River, and had only reduced to 6.8m by 6.30 p.m, according to the Salzburger Nachrichten

Hallein ‘narrowly escaped devastating incident’

The village of Hallein in the Salzburg region “narrowly escaped a devastating accident according to Der Standard newspaper, where volunteers and 50 members of the army were working on Sunday to clear away mud and wreckage from where the small ​​Kothbach river flooded the town.

Residents have been evacuated from parts of the old town and put up in emergency shelters set up at a school, and volunteers have been filling sandbags in an effort to stop flooding.

In Kuchl, also in the Salzburg region, drinking water was contaminated due to flooding, according to broadcaster ORF.

Unprecedented flooding in Tyrol town

The Mayor of Kurfstein in Tyrol said the city centre was “under water in a way that we have never seen before,” the Wiener Zeitung reports. Tyrol has also experienced numerous mudslides, flooded cellars and garages over the weekend.

People were told to stay home, not to enter underground garages and cellars and also to stay away from the dams of the rivers in the The Zell am See district and in Lower Austria on Sunday due to fears of mudslides. 

Fire brigades across the country have been on almost 1,000 missions since Saturday, and more than 500 Viennese firefighters have been making trips from the city to help those nearby affected by the floods.

Styria, Upper Austria,  Vorarlberg and Carinthia also affected

Heavy rain also created a risk of flooding and mudslides across Styria, as well as numerous damage. In Upper Styria, especially in Ennstal, Gesäuse and Mariazeller Land, the fire brigades have working around the clock since Saturday evening, broadcaster ORF reports.

In Vorarlberg, the city of Dornbirn was particularly bady affected. In the Seebach valley in Carinthia, there were several mudslides on Saturday afternoon, and a couple of mountain hut dwellers had to be flown out from 1,338 meters above sea level, when the route down was blocked, broadcaster ORF reports. 

In Upper Austria, extreme rainfall in Schärding, Steyr and in the Salzberg region has caused cellars to flood. Mobile protective dams will be put up along the Danube, broadcaster ORF reports, adding it is expected this is expected to contain the flooding. 

Kurz ‘shocked’ by images of flooding

Sebastian Kurz said he was “shocked” by the images of flooding in Tyrol and Hallein, and promised money from the disaster fund.

He thanked the volunteers and fire brigades in a tweet, which read “I  would like to thank all the emergency services and volunteers who do everything to help! We will not leave those affected alone and support them in rebuilding.”

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Vienna bans swimming and boating in the New Danube

Vienna experienced more than a month’s rainfall in a few hours during dramatic thunderstorms on Saturday and firefighters were busy pumping out flooded cellars, underground garages and underpasses at the weekend according to broadcaster ORF.

People have been banned from swimming or boating in the New Danube in Vienna as floodwater has entered the waters, which are now “cloudy”, Austrian agency APA reports. There may also be strong currents in the water. 

Reports of mystery ‘Havana syndrome’ among diplomats in Vienna

Austria’s Foreign Ministry has said it is working with US authorities following a series of suspected cases of “Havana syndrome” among US diplomats in Viennam Reuters reports. The US State Department says it is “vigorously investigating” the incidents, while the Foreign Ministry says it is taking the reports “very seriously”. 

The BBC describes “Havana Syndrome as a “mystery brain illness” and reports US scientists say it is most probably caused by directed microwave radiation. Symptoms may include dizziness, loss of balance, hearing loss and anxiety as well as “cognitive fog”.

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Milestone of four million fully vaccinated is reached

According to the Ministry of Health, the milestone of four million people in Austria to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 was reached on Saturday.

A total of around nine million vaccine doses have been administered so far. Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens) thanked everyone involved in the vaccinations, but pointed out only 37 percent of twelve to 55 year olds, have been fully vaccinated.

He appealed for more boys to come forward for the jab. 

Free PCR tests to be made available across Austria

Free PCR tests will be available across Austria to try and fight the rising number of infections, which is climbing faster than anticipated, Die Presse newspaper reports. However, according to Der Standard newspaper,  the free PCR tests are not expected to continue past the autumn, according to the President of the Upper Austrian Medical Association, Peter Niedermoser.

Seven day incidence is 23.9

The seven-day incidence, or the number of new infections with the coronavirus in the past seven days per 100,000 inhabitants, is 23.9. The number is highest in Vienna (39.5), followed by Salzburg with 36.6, and the lowest in Burgenland (7.8).

First vaccinations without appointment in Carinthia

People in Carinthia were vaccinated without an appointment for the first time at the flower hall in St. Veit an der Glan, at the weekend. Around 1,000 doses were inoculated and half of all those vaccinated were under 40 years of age, broadcaster ORF reports. 

READ MORE: Several Austrian states open Covid vaccinations without appointments

Political parties in Austria try to get young people jabbed

The political youth organisations of the ÖVP, SPÖ, Neos and Greens are organising dedicated campaigns to encourage those aged between 15 and 24 in Austria to get vaccinated, as infection rates within that age group are rising rapidly, Die Presse newspaper reports.


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