Residents and emergency crews worked through the night in Dresden and other cities to bolster riverbanks and build sandbag barriers as floodwaters that have already claimed 16 lives in Europe roared farther north through Germany.

The Elbe river was expected to crest Thursday in Dresden, the capital of Saxony state that was devastated during the massive flooding in 2002. This time, the famous historic city center has so far largely escaped damage.

In the Saxony-Anhalt city of Bitterfeld, an attempt to blow open a levee to lower waters threatening the city along the Mulde river was unsuccessful. Some 30,000 residents in nearby Halle were urged to evacuate.

The situation in the Bavarian town of Deggendorf remained critical, as another levee burst Thursday morning and the Danube engulfed entire neighborhoods.