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RELIEF EFFORTS STEM ODER RIVER FLOODS

Aid workers and residents of flood-drenched eastern Germany breathed a sigh of relief Saturday as round-the-clock efforts to reinforce dikes held off some of the heaviest floods in decades.

Sunny skies and forecasts of improving weather gave cause for hope that the worst could be over on both sides of the Oder River, which divides Germany and Poland.

Thousands of German soldiers spent the night filling 200,000 sandbags on the banks of the Oder in Hohenwutzen, reinforcing the dike and stopping leaks.

The floods, which have claimed about 100 lives this month in neighboring Poland and the Czech Republic, had been causing the dike to crumble, threatening to flood the fertile Oderbruch plain.

"The greatest danger is over," said Hans-Peter Troemel, head of emergency operations in Bad Freienwalde, where the Oder threatened to burst a 45-mile-long dike and flood 100 square miles of farmland.

A dike burst would destroy overnight what local farmers had accomplished in seven years of German unity, said Frank Ehling, chief administrator of Barnim-Oderbruch district .

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