Floating garbage in front of the dam, estimated to be up to 5,000 cubic metres

Heavy rain helps bring Western Balkans' waste problem into view

Recent heavy rain has helped highlight the Western Balkans' rubbish problem. 

Earlier in January, islands of waste formed on the Drina River near Visegrad in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They were caused by swollen winter waters surged over landfill sites near the river banks.

There was also a build-up of rubbish at Potpecko Lake near Priboj in Serbia. The reservoir is normally a picturesque fishing spot but the smell turned away visitors. 

Just five kilometres (three miles) northwest of Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, is a wasteland full of bathtubs, textiles, plastic packaging and car parts.

In the Vardarishte area to the east, a once-official landfill that was closed 26 years ago is now an illegal dump that stretches some 170,000 square metres (42 acres). It sits less than one kilometre away from urban neighbourhoods.