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Hundreds evacuated amid fears that Dutch dike may break

Marco De Swart / EPA

A view of downtown Dordrecht as the high water level in the Netherlands city reached its peak at 03:00 am CET on Jan. 6, 2012. The northern Dutch provinces were hit by strong winds and heavy rainfall in the last several days.

Marco De Swart / AFP - Getty Images

Water laps around a window in Dordrecht on Jan. 6, 2012. The authorities ordered the evacuation of about 800 people living in the north of the country fearing heavy rains could cause a dike to collapse, police said.

Koen Van Weel / EPA

Sandbags near a leaking dike at Eemskanaal (a canal) in Woltersum, Groningen, on Jan. 6, 2012.

The Associated Press reports from THE HAGUE, Netherlands

Police and military personnel began evacuating 800 people from four villages in the low-lying northern Netherlands on Friday amid fears of a dike break following days of drenching rains.

Authorities said that a section of the dike along a major canal could give way and submerge hundreds of hectares (acres) of land under up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) of water.

"The chance is small" the dike will break, said Yvonne van Mastrigt, chairman of the regional policy team that ordered the evacuation. "But in the interests of security of people and livestock I must take this decision." Continue reading.

See more pictures in Thursday's report on PhotoBlog: Floodwaters rise as Dutch watch and wait