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Record Balkan Floods Kill at Least 20

  • VOA News

More than 20 people in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina have been killed and thousands more displaced by the worst flooding to hit the Balkans in more than a century.

Experts warned Saturday that the death toll will rise, as authorities grapple with the effects of nearly four months' worth of rain in the past three days in the central European region.

Officials on Saturday said aerial flights showed almost a third of Bosnia — including houses, roads and rail lines — submerged. A Bosnian government spokesman estimated that 1 million people live in the affected areas.

Authorities also warned that landslides triggered by the floods are raising the risk of injury or death from land mines left over from the Bosnian war of the 1990s. The Associated Press says many carefully placed warning signs in northeastern Bosnia near clusters of unexploded ordnance have been washed away.

Meteorologists say a disturbance earlier this week in the jetstream stalled a huge weather front over the Balkans, blocking its exit from the region.

Serbian troops deployed Friday to Obrenovac, a town of 30,000 southwest of Belgrade, and were reported waiting Saturday for floodwaters to recede to survey the damage. A Reuters news agency photographer said the entire town center was submerged under two to three meters of water.

Soldiers in amphibious vehicles deployed in Obrenovac Friday to rescue hundreds of people packed into an elementary school. The town is also the site of Serbia's largest power plant, and authorities warn its failure could lead to massive power outages across the country.

Some information for this report comes from AP and Reuters.