A tornado and hailstones the size of tennis balls hit the southeastern Czech Republic, rescuers said, razing homes and causing an unknown number of deaths.
Video footage of the area on social media showed destroyed buildings and cars, mowed tree stumps and several fires with thick black smoke.
“It’s hell,” South Moravian regional governor Jan Grolich said Thursday after visiting the region.
Czech news agency CTK quoted the mayor of Hrusky as saying that half of his village had been razed to the ground.
A spokeswoman for the local emergency services, Hedvika Kropackova, said there were deaths and people were still trapped under the debris.
Kropackova said they expected dozens of injuries. However, the hospital in the town of Hodonin, on the Czech-Slovak border, said it had treated up to 200 wounded.
Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said “all available relief units are in action or are moving to the Hodonin region, where several municipalities have been hit by a tornado.”
Austrian and Slovakian rescuers provided assistance and the Czech army was also deployed.
The tornado and huge hailstones hit several towns and villages, including Hodonin, where, in addition to causing injuries, extreme weather conditions destroyed a retirement home and the local zoo.
The tornado also caused numerous blackouts and traffic disruptions, with downed power lines closing a major highway connecting Prague to the Slovak capital, Bratislava.
The storms forced Prime Minister Andrej Babis to stay in Brussels after a European summit because a landing in Prague would have been too dangerous.
In neighboring Poland, a tornado hit the southern province of Malopolska on Thursday, damaging roofs and injuring one person, according to local media.