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After unprecedented heavy rainfall that first began around 14 May 2014, flooding has now affected over 1 million people across the Balkan states of Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia.
Many media reports now claim that at least 35 people have died in the 6 days of flooding and almost non-stop rain. In both Serbia and Bosnia, entire villages are said to be completely submerged, forcing thousands to evacuate from their homes. Floods have forced power cuts and are threatening to inundate power stations.
The flooding has also caused thousands of landslides, particularly in the hilly regions of Bosnia., thousands of hills have crumpled into landslides and tens of thousands have been forced to flee their homes. Landslides and flood water have both combined to reveal the added threat of displacing old landmines left over from the wars during the 1990s.
Death Toll Rises
Many media outlets are reporting that the combined total death toll has now reached between 35 and 40.
In one of the worst natural disasters in Serbian history, at least 13 people died in the small town of Obrenovac. A member of one of the rescue teams working to evacuate flood victims is also believed to have died.
In Bosnia, as many as 9 people died in the north eastern town of Doboj. Bosnian authorities says that the official death toll stands at 19 for the whole country, although warn that this number could rise.
In Croatia, local media are reporting 2 deaths, with at least 2 people still missing, both understood to be in the village of Rajevo in Vukovar-Syrmia.
Record Rainfall and River Levels
The rainfall has been the heaviest since records began, over 120 years ago.
In Bosnia, authorities say the town of Maglaj, which is almost completely submerged, received two months of rain in under two days. Between 14 and 15 May 2014, Tuzla, north-east Bosnia saw 107mm of rain fall in 24 hours.
Some media reports are claiming that rainfall in areas of Serbia that fell on 16 May has been equal to about 4 months’ worth. Before then, on 14 May 2014, Kraljevo saw around 200mm of rain fall in 24 hours.
Such huge amounts of rain has of course increased river levels, posing a particular threat for the Serbian capital, Belgrade, which is situated along the meeting point of the Sava and Danube rivers.
At Sabac, the Sava River levels are at a record high of 6.3 meters (20.7 feet). Volunteers, emergecy services and military personnel are all working to shore up flood defences and have erected a temporary 7.3 metre dam at Sabac.
Although the rainfall might be easing, river levels of the Sava, Kolubara, Drina, Mlava and Velika Morava in Serbia care all expected to rise further, and flooding in Belgrade will remain a threat at least until Thursday 22 May 2014.
Serbian Power Plant Threatened
Record high levels of the Sava also threaten to inundate Serbia’s largest power plant, the Nikola Tesla complex, which is situated 30km south west of Belgrade.
The plant between 20% and 50% of Serbia’s electricity. Military and energy company employees have built temporary flood barriers in the hope of preventing a disaster.
Over 100,000 Serbians have already experienced power cuts since flooding first began last week.
Landslides and Land mines
A warning has been issued by Bosnian authorities about the danger of land mines left over from the war that could have been dislodged by flooding and landslides.
The flood water and torrential rain has triggered between 2,000 and 3,000 landslides in the hilly and mountainous regions of Bosnia. For example, the hillside village of Horozovina, which lies close to the north eastern town of Tuzla (which saw huge amounts of rainfall – see above), has been split into two by a landslide. At least 8 houses were destroyed.
Some of the areas affected by floods and landslides are thought to be some of the 9,000 marked minefields left from the Bosnian war of 1992-95. It is believed that over 120,000 landmines still remain in the country. Over 600 people have died as a result if landmines since the Bosnian war ended.
Facts and Figures
- 1000s affected by power cuts
- 100,000 houses and other buildings flood damaged
- 35,000 people have been evacuated by military and emergency services using helicopters, boats and trucks
- 230 schools and hospitals damaged
- 1 million people cut off from clean water supplies
Although water levels are slowly receding, the north east of the country is still badly affected and river levels could still rise. Some of the worst affected areas include the two cities of Orasje and Brcko in north east Bosnia, and also the region of Maglaj, also in northern Bosnia.
— The Independent (@Independent) May 18, 2014
- Property damage is estimated at over 1 billion euros (according to Serbia’s presidential office)
- Over 25,000 people have been evacuated by emergency services
- Authorities say the town of Obrenovac is 90% under water
- The areas worst affected include the Belgrade region, as well as Kostolac, Sabac, Sremska Mitrovica, Krupanj, Sremska Raca and Jamena
- 15,000 people have been evacuated in Croatia
- The worst affected areas include Vukovar-Syrmia, Sisak-Moslavina and Brod-Posavina
- Some remote villages are still completely cut off
More Floods Possible
Even though the intense rainfall has subsided somewhat, river levels across the region, particularly in Serbia, still pose a big threat and could well still rise further.