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Farms, homes evacuated after dam bursts

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Farms, homes evacuated after dam bursts
Route 1944 bridge between Osby and Verum in Skåne damaged by dam burst, Sunday
14:18 CET+01:00
A dam burst in Hästberga in southern Sweden on Sunday caused floods and forced residents to evacuate.

"We are dealing with huge amounts of water," emergency director Lars-Anders Svensson at Osby emergency services told news agency TT. According to police, no one was injured.

The alarm about the accident came in at 12.55pm. According to Svensson, a nearby road is completely submerged and a bridge has been completely swept away.

"The water is now on its way down towards Osbysjön and further. We have not been able to calculate how large the volume is," he said.

No acute floods have been reported by residents in the area.

"We have not received these kinds of reports, but we assume that it will happen," said Svensson.

Emergency services are now taking stock of the homes in the area. Flights have also been sent to the area to survey the extent of the accident.

Police said the flooding is probably the result of a burst hydroelectric dam, causing water to gush out. Hästberga in southern Kronoberg county is 17km northwest of Osby, which lies in northern Skåne

Ola Strömberg, road traffic manager of the Swedish Transport Administration's (Trafikverket) southern region, confirmed to TT that a bridge had collapsed following the flooding.

"It was a bridge that crossed a river. It is road number 1944 between Verum and Osby," he said.

Verum is 14km west of Osby. The route, a less busy asphalt road, was partially flooded. Traffic agency staff arrived on the scene in the early afternoon.

"We will close off the road and divert traffic," said Strömberg.

According to SOS Alarm in Skåne, dozens of rescue vehicles are on site at the dam accident. The services also sent an ambulance, but no injuries have been reported so far.

"There are no injuries that we know of. We are now working to evacuate farms and homes," said Sofie Österheim, public relations officer at police communications center in Malmö.

Electricity company Brittedal runs the power station in Hästberga. Electrical engineer Göran Persson has not managed to reach the station because of the flooding.

"I tried to get up there, but there is a lot of water, so I could not reach it by car. However, a loader drove up a number of people to the scene," said Persson.

In addition to emergency services, a couple of employees from Brittedal are at the location.

"It is totally washed away, so here stands a power station that is mine and there is nothing left of the dam," said Jörgen Malm, director of Brittedal, who was at the accident site.

The damage is extensive, he stated.

"It is a small disaster. That is quite clear," said Malm.

The power station remains, but the concrete foundation has been washed away. What has caused the burst is still not clear.

"We are leaning towards thinking that it collapsed in the edge between the concrete and the levee," said Malm.

Henrik Åkesson, who has a farm in the immediate vicinity of the dam, discovered shortly after 1pm that water pouring into the courtyard.

"We had a feeling that the dam had burst. It was a disaster area here. I myself am fine, but I have a neighbour who was forced to evacuate all his animals. The water began rising in the stables, so he had to let the animals out," he said.

According to Åkesson, the water has now begun to recede.

"The danger seems to be over. Everyone in my house is all right. Now I will go out and help the neighbour to collect the animals," he said.

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