A rare tornado struck along the Czech Republic’s southern border on Thursday evening, destroying parts of some towns as strong storms swept through the area and injured at least 150 people, emergency services and media reported.
A Czech Television meteorologist said the tornado, reported in towns around Hodonin, along the Austrian border and 270 km southeast of Prague, may have reached F3-F4 levels, with winds hitting 267-322 km per hour in the latter level.
That would make it the strongest in the central European country’s modern history and the first tornado since 2018.
Photos on social media and news websites showed houses and some churches with destroyed roofs, broken windows, and fallen trees and destroyed cars along streets after the storms hit.
A spokesperson for the South Moravia region’s ambulance service told CTK news agency up to 150 people were injured.
Czech TV reported around seven small towns were “massively” damaged, citing an emergency services spokesperson. An official of one municipality, Hrusky, said half of the town was practically levelled to the ground.
Interior Minister Jan Hamacek wrote on Twitter the situation in the area was serious and all emergency services units were at work. Search and rescue teams were also headed to the towns.
Na Břeclavsku a Hodonínsku dnes řádilo tornádo. Zdroj foto: https://facebook.com/319420554794273/posts/4063146730421618/
Local emergency services have warned citizens not to be outside or on the roads, and described the situation as “damaged houses, fire, traffic accidents, trees on cars and homes.”
“Hundreds” of police and first responders have been dispatched to southern Moravia, Czech police announced, urging people on the roads to “clear the way” for them.
Austrian and Slovakian rescue units are rushing to help Czech authorities in the cleanup operations.
The last time a tornado was detected in Czechia was May 2018. That was an F0 event that struck mostly empty farmland in the Plzen district, resulting in no injuries.
A tornado also hit the southern Polish province of Malopolska on Thursday.