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DIKE ALONG ODER RIVER BURSTS, FLOODING VILLAGES

The dike along the rain-swollen Oder River burst Wednesday despite reinforcement by a million soggy sandbags, sending muddy water rushing into lowland villages.

Authorities evacuated about 300 residents after the dike broke. They ordered another 2,300 to leave their homes as the surging waters spread. No injuries were reported.

Easing the overall pressure downstream a bit, Brandenburg state authorities decided not to try to plug the 500-foot gap created by the break, just south of Frankfurt an der Oder in eastern Germany.

In Bonn, Chancellor Helmut Kohl's government pledged more than $110 million in low-interest loans and emergency aid for flood victims.

The army, which has been dropping sandbags and cement blocks by helicopter to bolster strained dikes, said it would send in another 1,000 soldiers, bringing the total on flood duty to about 7,000. The Red Cross appealed for donations.

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