Sunday, May 18, 2014
Dozens die in worst Balkans flooding in decades, thousands displaced
The River Sava, swollen by torrential rains, has overflowed its banks and threatens the Nikola Tesla power plant, named for the renowned Serbian scientist.
Serbian Emergency Director Predrag Maric said the power plant was turned off after water broke through a 100-mile stretch of a dyke.
There are also reports that signs-designating areas where land mines were planted have been knocked over. The mines were planted during the 1992-1995 war, and the floodwaters have caused landslides that could move some of the mines.
Once the floodwaters go down experts will have to survey the areas where mines were known to have been planted.
The floods are affecting Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia.
Thousands have fled their homes in boats, buses and helicopters as water rose up to the second-floor levels in buildings in some areas. Thousands were also without potable drinking water. Hundreds of homes were destroyed.
"Bosnia is facing a horrible catastrophe," said Bakir Izetbegovic, the chairman of the Bosnian three-man presidency. "We are still not fully aware of actual dimensions of the catastrophe ... we will have to take care of hundreds, thousands of people."
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said a new wave of flooding would hit Sunday evening.
"Our primary concern is to protect the power plant," Vucic said. "We are doing all we can."
Bridges were washed out, making access to the flooded areas difficult.
On his Twitter feed, tennis player Novak Djokovic said, “This is a catastrophe of biblical proportions. Half of the country is in danger of electricity cuts. Unfortunately, the awareness is lacking as to what is really happening in the areas. We need help.”