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Discharged water from reservoir threatens villages in Thuringia

The Kelbra dam is drained into the Helme river in a controlled manner yesterday. / Photo: Heiko Rebsch/dpa
The Kelbra dam is drained into the Helme river in a controlled manner yesterday. / Photo: Heiko Rebsch/dpa

The increased water level of the Helme after the release of water from the Kelbra dam in Saxony-Anhalt is endangering a village in Thuringia, according to the authorities. The village of Nikolrausrieth in the Kyffhäuserkreis district is affected, a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Interior announced on Thursday. Emergency services had set up sandbags on the riverbank to prevent the water from overflowing into the small village with around 30 houses. According to the information, the water was about ten centimetres below the edge of the bank. In the afternoon, the responsible authorities in both federal states decided to open the Helme dyke located in Saxony-Anhalt in order to divert the water onto surrounding fields.

As a spokesperson for the Thuringian State Office for the Environment, Mining and Nature Conservation (TLUBN) explained, the dyke crown is to be removed over a length of five to ten meters. The water flowing through the culvert will then flow across the fields into a flood ditch in Kalbsrieth, Thuringia. The work was due to start in the late afternoon. As the water level of the Helme is expected to remain high for the next few days, the drainage of the water will be permanently monitored.

The village of Mönchpfiffel-Nikolausrieth is located directly on the border with Saxony-Anhalt. The situation has developed over the past few hours, said the spokesperson for the authorities. According to the Kyffhäuserkreis district office, the high water level of the Helme was also threatening the village of Heygendorf. However, there was no acute danger, a spokesperson said.

On Thursday, Thuringia's Interior Minister Georg Maier (SPD) also took a look at the situation on the banks of the Helme in Nikolausrieth. The Kelbra reservoir near the border between Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia in the Kyffhäuser Mountains had filled up after unusually heavy rainfall over Christmas. The main purpose of the dam is to protect the Helme-Unstrut valley from flooding. Water is to be released from the dam system in a controlled manner.

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