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August 18, 2002
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With central Europe still reeling from the impact of floods that have left almost 100 people dead and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes, racing driver Michael Schumacher has taken practical action by donating a million euros (over £600,000) to the relief effort in his home country Germany.

Admitting that he’d been shocked by television images of the devastation wrought by the flooding, the five-times World Champion, who now lives in Switzerland, said: "I've decided to make a donation and I hope that others will follow my example. People need help. I'm German. I want to give something back to those people who supported us for many years and are our loyal fans."

His gesture came shortly after an appeal for help by actor Sean Connery, who was in Prague filming The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a historic thriller, when the floods hit. "I don't know if the world realizes the depth of the disaster," said the popular former 007 actor, who had to be evacuated from his hotel. "The magnitude of it won't be complete until you see the destruction. I have to just say how sorry one is to see all this (damage)," he added.

Most of the fatalities from the flooding were in Russia, but Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic have also been hard hit. European authorities swung into action to kick-start relief programmes, with European Commission President Romano Prodi pledging millions of euros in loans from the European Investment Bank for the affected countries. The cost of the devastation is estimated to be in the tens of billions of euros.

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Photo: ©
The German race ace, who now lives in Switzerland, said he'd been shocked by images of the flooding and he wanted to help the people of his home country
Photo: ©
The Semper Opera building reflected in flood waters which swamped Dresden's famous Theaterplatz last week, threatening the opera house and the sumptuous Zwinger PalacePhoto: © PA

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