Stockholm, Sweden – The capital of Sweden has been plunged into a humanitarian crisis after hundreds of thousands of residents were forced to evacuate their homes in the worst flood in the country’s history.
Sweden has been forced to impose emergency rules to ensure people are safe as the city’s main road has been blocked off, and the river is being diverted to the east.
Residents have been ordered to evacuate in the Stockholm suburb of Malmö, and thousands of people are still waiting for the water to recede.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told reporters on Thursday that the floods were “a huge tragedy for the Swedish people”, and said he was “extremely saddened”.
“We cannot continue to let this happen to our country,” he said.
The Swedish government has said more than 6,000 homes have been evacuated and that the river has receded to around 2 metres.
Swedes have been urged to take shelter in a public park and call their families if they can.
The floods, which have been described as a “tidal wave”, have been blamed on the drought, which has seen temperatures in the Nordic country drop below freezing for the first time in more than 10 years.
Swede Environment Minister Anna-Kaisa Gernsheim said that more than 200,000 residents had been forced from their homes, while the water level in the Swedish capital’s main river, the Dannebrog, has dropped to around 4.5 metres.
“The water level is dropping as much as 7 metres (22ft), and the Dan-T is rising,” she told reporters.
“Swedes should start to evacuate and stay indoors.
We are going to try and stop the river from receding any further.”
Authorities have warned that the riverside area is now unsafe to walk, so people should consider walking around on the banks of the river in case it recedes further.
Authorities have said they will ask the Swedish government for more help from international donors to assist with relief efforts, including emergency funds for flood defences.
The government said that a government of emergency had been declared in Sweden.