Rising waters from the Danube and Vltava rivers have inundated parts of Austria and the Czech Republic after days of heavy rainfall.

Volunteers piled up sandbags to keep a swollen river from overwhelming the Czech capital's historic centre after floods across central Europe forced factories to closed, drove thousands from their homes and killed at least eight people.

Six people died in the Czech Republic from the worst flooding in a decade and a state of emergency was declared, while in Austria two people died and another two were missing.

Thousands of people living in low-lying areas in Austria and the Czech Republic had to be evacuated from their homes.

The flooding arose from several days of torrential rainfall. In some places two months worth of rain fell in just a few days.

The Charles Bridge in Prague, a favourite spot for tourists that dates to the 14th century, was closed.

Tree trunks floated by in the muddy brown water. A riverside path that is below street level, is usually populated with cyclists and people sitting at cafes, was under water on Monday.

Some of the worst flooding was around the Danube river, which starts in Germany and winds its way through countries including Austria, Slovakia and Hungary on its way to the Black Sea. The river was swollen by heavy rain at the weekend.

The last time central Europe saw similar floods was in 2002, when 17 people were killed in the Czech Republic, and damage estimated at €20bn was inflicted.

Officials in Prague, the Czech capital listed by the UN cultural agency as a World Heritage Site, said they did not anticipate the waters of the Vltava river would reach 2002 levels.