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Dozens dead, tens of thousands evacuated from Balkans flooding


Bosnia and Herzegovina

Dozens dead, tens of thousands evacuated from Balkans flooding

The death toll continues to rise from the flooding in the Balkans. In central and western Serbia, the rains did start to ease and waters receded in some of the worst-hit areas on Sunday, May 18.

But essential services, like power stations, have been submerged. Serbia’s EPS power utility said fresh flooding is threatening the Nikola Tesla and Kostolac power plants in Obrenovac, 30 kilometres southwest of the capital, Belgrade. Kostolac currently supplies 20 percent of Serbia’s electricity needs.

Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from the region in the past week.

The emergency services, helped by volunteers, have been going house-to-house in the town of Obrenovac rescuing people who had been trapped for days in some cases and bringing food and drinking water to those who refused to leave.

In Obrenovac 12 people have drowned. More than 40 people are known to have died across the region, but the authorities expect more bodies to be found as the waters recede.

Rescue teams, humanitarian aid, water pumps and generators have been arriving from Russia and European Union member states, including Britain, Germany and Austria, as well as closer at hand from other former Yugoslav republics.

In eastern Croatia the Sava River burst its banks after days of torrential rain.

Large parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina have also been devastated, with evacuees being housed wherever is still dry, including in schools and a military barracks in the central Bosnian town of Zenica.

Many were in shock describing how their villages disappeared very quickly under the flood water and landslides.

Flood victim Zlata Ahmetspahic said: “It all happened in an hour, we barely escaped to one hill to save our lives. The water surged into the houses, only a sliver of the roof was visible from under water. We have nothing left, nothing. What shall we do? What shall we do? I do not know. I lost everything, the home that I lived in, my house, everything. Everything is destroyed.”

Many of the homes that were lost had only recently been rebuilt after Yugoslavia’s war.

The authorities say the financial impact of the floods will be huge, devastating the agricultural sector that is vital to the region’s economies.

with Reuters and AP

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