UPDATED: Tornado damaged villages just across the Slovak borders

Czech authorities report five dead, one a native of the Slovak town of Prešov, and hundreds of injured in southern Moravia region.

Vast damage after the supercell storm in southern Moravia. Vast damage after the supercell storm in southern Moravia. (Source: FB/Severe Weather Slovakia o.z.)

Extreme weather claimed at least five lives while hundreds were injured in the Czech Republic's region of southern Moravia, just across the border from Slovakia. Seven villages have suffered massive material damage.

One of the fatalities, a pregnant woman killed by a steel construction in the village of Lužice, was a native of the Slovak city of Prešov living in the Czech Republic, the TV Joj reported.

The village of Hrušky, some 30 km from the Slovak border and about 80 km from Bratislava, reports the worst damage. The supercell storm that swept through the region on the evening of June 24 brought hail and a tornado, a normally unseen occurrence in this part of the world.

Czech Television's meteorologist Michal Žák believes this may have been the strongest tornado in the history of the Czech Republic, of the 3rd or 4th degree in strength, which is unusual for Europe, the Sme daily reported.

Meteorologist Dagmar Honsová estimated for Novinky.cz the speed of the wind at as much as 219 km/h, when in some places the gusts of wind might have been even stronger. The damage caused corresponds to the consequences of a tornado of intensity F3 on the five-degree Fujita scale of tornado. This degree means serious damage at wind speeds between 254 and 332 km/h.

Slovakia joins relief efforts

The Czech authorities have mobilised all the available rescue forces to provide relief in the region. Help has also been provided by neighbouring countries, including Slovakia. Seven ambulances from Slovakia were deployed to the region in the evening and the hospitals in the nearby Slovak towns and in Bratislava offered to admit the injured.

"We are actively communicating with the Czech side," PM Eduard Heger (OĽaNO) wrote on his Facebook profile at night. He confirmed that apart from the seven ambulances, fire forces from Bratislava and Trnava have also been sent to help. "I send my thoughts to all those who have been affected by this tornado. I believe Czechia will make it. We will continue providing help to our neighbours."

Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď (OĽaNO) announced he was in contact with his Czech counterpart and that the Slovak armed forces are ready to help the inhabitants of the affected municipalities immediately in case of need.

Interior Minister Roman Mikulec (OĽaNO) informed the Czech authorities that the forces working under his department were ready to help in any way they can.

President Zuzana Čaputová expressed sympathy to all those who have been affected by the natural disaster. She also appreciated the help that was immediately offered by Slovak health professionals.

The intense thunderstorms accompanied by the tornado and hail that devastated south Moravia caused blackouts in north-western Slovakia, leaving more than 30,000 households without electricity, energy utility Stredoslovenská Distribučná (SSD) spokesperson Miroslav Gejdoš reported on Friday.

Around 6,400 households were without power. The worst-affected affected districts are Čadca (Žilina Region), Púchov and Povazská Bystrica (both Trenčín Region).

“The damage is mostly due to trees falling on electricity lines and torn conductors,” said Gejdoš as cited by the TASR newswire. “Apart from high voltage failures, the crews have also had to deal with a large number of low voltage malfunctions.”

Counting the damages

Mayor of the Hrušky village in the Břeclav district, Marek Babisz, told the media that half of the village has been razed to the ground. The wind took the roof of the church and some cars ended up on the roofs of houses.

“Hundreds of houses are now roofless, no rafters, trees have been uprooted, a truck turned over, cars, roads are blocked, the rescue system cannot even get to us,” said the mayor of the Pánov part of the town of Hodonín, Marek Košut, on Thursday night. He added that there have been gas leaks and there was no electricity.

The storm took away the roof of the local sports hall and damaged the stadium and the social care home where several pensioners have been injured.

The storm also damaged the ZOO in Hodonín.

The Valtice municipality, home to a well-known eponymous historical castle, was hit by hail the size of tennis balls, according to Mayor Pavel Trojan. The hail damaged the roof and the windows of the castle. The cost of the damages may reach millions of Czech crowns, according to the castellan Richard Sloboda.

The village of Mikulčice “looks like a warzone”, according to Mayor Marta Otáhalová.

The storms have caused complications with road and rail traffic, although most of the problems were solved during the night. Electricity supplies were affected in northwestern Slovakia at night.

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