(Reuters) - The heaviest rains and floods in 120 years have hit Bosnia and Serbia, killing five people, forcing hundreds out of their homes and cutting off entire towns.
The five casualties, one of them a firefighter on a rescue mission, drowned in Serbia. Bosnia and Serbia declared a state of emergency, while the Serbian Orthodox church said it would hold special prayers in Belgrade for the rain to stop.
"This is the greatest flooding disaster ever. Not only in the past 100 years; this has never happened in Serbia's history," Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic told a news conference. "More rain fell in one day than in four months."
In Bosnia, army helicopters evacuated dozens of people stranded on the top floors of their flooded homes in the central town of Maglaj, where the Bosna river swelled to record levels and swept away the main bridge. Rescuers used boats to reach stranded victims.
Doctors said one man in eastern Bosnia died of a heart attack while trying to save his cattle from drowning.
Special police were trying to reach the northern Bosnian town of Doboj, which was cut off from the rest of the country after all major roads out were flooded.
The Bosnian government ordered the defense ministry to use troops to help thousands of civilians whose homes were engulfed by water, particularly in the central and eastern regions.
"This is the worst rainfall in Bosnia since 1894, when weather measurements started to be recorded," said Zeljko Majstorovic, a Sarajevo meteorologist. He said the rain, which began on Tuesday, would continue until the end of the week.
Many roads were deluged and towns and villages completely cut off. Schools were closed across both countries.
Serbian Energy Minister Aleksandar Antic said power supplies were cut to around 100,000 households, mostly in central Serbia.
Serbia's power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) said that high water levels on the Morava river had forced it to halt two hydro power plants there.
A major highway from Belgrade to Macedonia and Bulgaria was flooded and the traffic interrupted. The main south-bound railway line to Montenegro's port of Bar was also closed down, as well as the one linking Doboj in Bosnia to Belgrade.
Bosnia's utilities, Elektroprivreda BiH and Elektroprivreda RS, said around 50,000 households were without electricity across the Balkan country.
Prime minister calls Serbia floods ‘worst natural disaster’ in country’s history
16.05.14. Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has called the floods in his country the” worst natural disaster” in its history.
At least five people have died after the equivalent of four month’s rainfall fell in just one day.
More than 6,000 people have been displaced and 300.000 homes are without electricity. Many towns and villages are completely cut off and emergency services are working around the clock to rescue people.
One woman who was evacuated from her village near Preljine in Slavica in the east of the country said: “Everything we have is flooded, destroyed, water is in the house, all the appliances are under water.”
Another said: “This is a catastrophe, we have lost all of our furniture, we have nowhere to sleep, it’s all gone”
Russia sent a specialist team of rescuers on Friday with boats and diving equipment to help with the effort.They are also flying in food which will be distributed to the worst hit areas.
Bosnia has also been badly hit and both countries have declared a state of emergency.
The Bosnian defence ministry sent troops to help thousands of people whose homes have been engulfed by water.
“This is the worst rainfall in Bosnia since 1894, when weather measurements started to be recorded,” said Zeljko Majstorovic, a Sarajevo meteorologist.
The rain, which began on Tuesday, is forecast to continue over the weekend although with less intensity.
More flooding in the Balkans
Three months after the floods in the area of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia's rivers in the last few days due to heavy rainfall again overflows its banks and flooded large areas. In Bosnia and Herzegovina is reportedly Avaz worst in Bjelijini and in Brcko, where they proclaimed a state of emergency, while the Bosnia river rose to 450 centimeters to a meter and a half and grew as general flood protection.
Bosnian town of Doboj flooded in just minutes.
Click on the video on the link below:
Translated to English: bit.ly/1kaOkFU
Balkans Flooding Leaves Tons of Dead Livestock (May 20)
A new calamity emerged Tuesday in the flood-hit Balkans as rescue workers battled overflowing rivers — and were confronted by wastelands of drowned livestock.
As the rainfall stopped and temperatures rose, the withdrawing floodwaters revealed a harrowing sight: thousands of dead cows, pigs, sheep, dogs and other animals left behind as their panicked owners fled.
"There are tons of dead animals that we must dispose of," Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic told a government meeting.
The record flooding in Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia in the past week has forced half a million people from their homes and led to at least 44 deaths: 22 in Bosnia, 20 in Serbia and two in Croatia. Authorities said the death toll could rise.
Bosnia declared Tuesday a day of mourning while Serbia said it would hold three days of mourning starting Wednesday.
In the northern Bosnian town of Samac, troops used ropes to pull nearly 400 dead cows out of a barn and drove the carcasses away on trucks.
In Samac, like many Bosnian and Serbian towns, waters rose within hours, racing into yards and homes without warning. Farmers often had no time to free their livestock from barns or fenced fields, so that they could attempt to swim to safety.
Many dead animals were found slumped over the metal fences they had tried to jump over.
"Dead animals are a special problem and those have to be removed and destroyed properly," said Bosnia's chief epidemiologist, Dr. Zeljko Ler.
Serbia's senior veterinarian, Sanja Celbicanin, said 140 tons of drowned animals had been destroyed so far but much more work lay ahead. Some 1,900 sheep and lambs died in just one area of central Serbia and teams could work only in areas deemed safe by police, she said, urging residents not to touch any dead animals.
Serbian state television showed footage of army units spreading out Tuesday to decontaminate and disinfect flooded areas.
Residents in both countries were told not to return to their homes before teams disinfect the area and not to eat any food from flooded gardens, orchards or barns
Ler warned that acute stomach ailments and other diseases, including hepatitis and typhoid, often spread after flooding.
"We are warning the population to drink only boiled or bottled water," he said. "There are still no mass infections, but for some diseases the incubation period is 14 to 21 days."
Water levels were still rising Tuesday in parts of northern Bosnia, particularly the town of Orasje, with flood levels exceeding one metre.
Rescuers led some residents to safety and delivered aid to other residents who stayed in upper floors of their homes. The hospital in Orasje issued an appeal for staff and medicines.
The European Commission said nearly 400 relief workers have been deployed in Serbia and Bosnia.
The flooding was still threatening Serbia's biggest power plant in the town of Obrenovac on the River Sava, a tributary to Europe's second-biggest river, the Danube. Serbian authorities responding to rising Danube water levels ordered the evacuation of two more villages Tuesday.
In Bosnia, army helicopters dropped iron bars onto collapsed river barriers for a second day and planned later to drop sandbags on top of them in hopes of patching the flood defenses.
Bosnia's presidency said it will organize an international fund-raising conference and asked banks to renegotiate the mortgages of homes destroyed in the flooding.
18.05.14. Death toll rises to 44 in worst ever Balkan flooding
BRCKO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Floodwaters triggered more than 3,000 landslides across the Balkans on Sunday, laying waste to entire towns and villages and disturbing land mines leftover from the region's 1990s war, along with warning signs that marked the unexploded weapons.
The Balkans' worst flooding since record keeping began forced tens of thousands of people from their homes and threatened to inundate Serbia's main power plant, which supplies electricity to a third of the country and most of the capital, Belgrade.
Authorities organized a frenzied helicopter airlift to get terrified families to safety before the water swallowed up their homes. Many were plucked from rooftops.
Floodwaters receded Sunday in some locations, laying bare the full scale of the damage. Elsewhere, emergency management officials warned that the water would keep rising into Sunday night.
"The situation is catastrophic," said Bosnia's refugee minister, Adil Osmanovic.
Three months' worth of rain fell on the region in three days, producing the worst floods since rainfall measurements began 120 years ago. At least two dozen people have died, with more casualties expected.
The rain caused an estimated 2,100 landslides that covered roads, homes and whole villages throughout hilly Bosnia. Another 1,000 landslides were reported in neighboring Serbia.
17.05.14. At least 20 killed in record Balkans floods
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