BERN, Switzerland – Rescue workers began evacuating more people from submerged sections of the Swiss capital Thursday as central and southern Europe struggled with the aftermath of flooding that has killed at least 42 people.
More than 300 people have already been moved from Bern's flooded Matte (search) district, a low-lying area next to the river Aare (search), said authorities, who described the situation as precarious. About a dozen people could still be trapped in their homes, city police spokesman Franz Maerki told The Associated Press.
The death toll from this week's storms has risen steadily as floodwaters washed up the missing. Hardest hit in the disaster was Romania, with 31 dead since the rains began nine days ago, authorities said Thursday. Austria, Bulgaria, Germany and Switzerland (search) reported a total of 11 dead.
Across the Alps, military helicopters were ferrying in supplies to valleys cut off by flooding, as well as evacuating stranded tourists. Water levels remained high on rivers and lakes in central Switzerland, although many victims have begun returning to their homes and villages.
"We will be getting more water again," Maerki said. "At the moment we are primarily trying to clear flooded wood and above all we will evacuate the rest of the people from the flooded Matte district."
Maerki said most of Matte's 1,100 residents have left the area and perhaps a dozen people still needed to be evacuated. Many homes there are in imminent danger of collapse and electricity, phone links and gas are cut off, city authorities said.
City authorities are also preparing for another possible surge of water, which could rush downstream from the mountains as blockages are cleared.
Elsewhere in Switzerland, much of the historic old city of Lucerne (search) remained underwater as more than 350 policemen, firefighters and volunteers worked round the clock to remove debris and protect buildings, while children played in flooded squares and streets.
The town of Engelberg (search) was still cut off from the rest of Switzerland after its only road out was washed away by a landslide Tuesday. Authorities there were trying to build an emergency road but said it would take two weeks to complete.
With the rains easing off, officials in Austria turned their attention to the cleanup and reconstruction.
"The danger is over," said Doris Ita, the head of Austria's flood emergency department. "But we are still watching the situation."
Victims struggled to clear debris and shovel away the mud from their homes in the Austrian provinces of Tyrol and Vorarlberg, where many areas remained cut off by flooded roads.
Water levels were also falling in the tributaries of the Danube (search) in Germany.
However, the river flooded part of the southeastern town of Kelheim, including its Weltenburg Monastery (search), founded in the 7th century and described as the oldest in Bavaria.
The ground floor of the Benedictine monastery, which draws 500,000 visitors a year, was submerged early Thursday, according to its prior.
Poland was also hit by the downpours, with about 10 roads and a number of houses flooded in south near the Czech border.