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 June 11, 2013
Hungary says catastrophe averted after Danube hits new record

 Budapest averted the worst of the floods that caused devastation elsewhere in central Europe, as flood defences held firm, with the Danube starting to recede early Monday after reaching a historic high.

"We have no reports of any catastrophic situation, the situation is normalising," Budapest Mayor Istvan Tarlos told a joint press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban early Monday.

The same was true of the rest of the country, where no casualties or serious injuries have been caused by the floods that has been dubbed Europe's worst in a decade.

"Budapest should be out of danger by Wednesday, and hopes to present a faultless record -- no deaths or injuries due to the flood," Orban said.

The focus of defence efforts now moved to high-risk locations in the south of the country, he added.

Residents evacuated as a precaution from villages in northwest Hungary could begin moving back from Tuesday, Orban said. Around 1,400 people have been evacuated nationwide since Thursday.

The Danube in Budapest reached a historic peak of 8.91 metres (29 feet) on Sunday evening, topping the previous record of 8.60 metres in 2006.

Early Monday, the level began to fall however, reaching 8.88 metres by 0600 GMT, according to Tarlos.

Anti-flood barriers along the most threatened areas in the city held firm, he said.

Roads running along the Danube have been closed since Wednesday due to flooding. The main road connecting the capital to the flood-hit areas in the northwest was also still cut off.

"The biggest problem we have at the moment is traffic jams", Tarlos said, urging people not to use their cars but to opt for public transport instead.

In flood-hit areas in northwest Hungary, water levels have fallen continuously since Sunday but many roads remained cut off.

The Suzuki car plant in Esztergom, 65 kilometres (40 miles) north of Budapest, said many workers were unable to travel to work and production would be halted on Monday. A decision to resume on Tuesday has not yet been made, it said.