News / Europe

At Least 37 Dead, Thousands Displaced in Massive Balkan Floods

Serbian army soldiers evacuate a boy from a flooded house in the town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade, Serbia, May 17, 2014.
Serbian army soldiers evacuate a boy from a flooded house in the town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade, Serbia, May 17, 2014.
VOA News
Soldiers, police and volunteers battled to protect power plants in Serbia from rising flood waters on Sunday as the death toll from the Balkan region's worst rainfall in more than a century rose to at least 37.
 
Twelve bodies were recovered from the worst-hit Serbian town of Obrenovac, 30 kilometers southwest of the capital, Belgrade.
 
“The situation is catastrophic,” Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said, and warned that the death toll would likely rise.
 
About 300 landslides, triggered by unprecedented rains in Bosnia, have left thousands of people homeless, officials said Sunday, while thousands more have fled their homes in neighboring Croatia and Serbia.

Throughout hilly Bosnia, floods are triggering landslides covering roads, homes and whole villages. Stranded villagers often are being rescued by helicopter.

Three months' worth of rain fell on the region in a three-day burst, creating the worst floods since rainfall measurements began 120 years ago.
 
  • People build a dam made up of sandbags by the bank of the Sava river in Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia, May 17, 2014.
  • A man rows a boat past flooded ambulance vehicles in the flooded town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade, Serbia, May 17, 2014.
  • Army soldiers evacuate people in amphibious vehicles in the flooded town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade, Serbia, May 17, 2014.
  • Police officers carry a man from a military helicopter during flood evacuation from Obrenovac, Serbia, May 17, 2014.
  • Members of the army carry food and water supplies for people stranded, due to the floods, in the Bosnian town of Maglaj, May 16, 2014.
  • A man drives his bicycle away from a flooded area in the village of Dvorovi, near Bijeljina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, May 17, 2014.

Russian cargo planes carrying boats, generators and food joined rescue teams from around Europe and thousands of local volunteers in evacuating people and building flood defenses after the River Sava, swollen by days of torrential rain, burst its banks.
 
Rains eased and flood waters receded on Sunday in some of the worst-hit areas of Serbia and Bosnia, but the River Sava was forecast to continue rising.

Pope Francis has asking the world to pray for victims of the flooding. In his weekly address at the Vatican he said that he feels personal closeness to those living through pain and trouble.
 
Power plants threatened

Serbia's EPS power utility said a fresh flood wave from the Sava and Mlava rivers threatened the Nikola Tesla and Kostolac power plants. Capacity has already been cut back at the Nikola Tesla plant in Obrenovac, Serbia's largest.
 
The Mlava overwhelmed sandbag flood defenses on Sunday morning near Kostolac, threatening to flood coal mines and the plant itself. Power plant workers joined soldiers and police in trying to divert the water, digging up a road in one area.
 
Villagers nearby were evacuated, many of them refugees from the 1990s wars in Bosnia and Croatia. Kostolac currently covers 20 percent of Serbia's electricity needs.
 
Flooding had already cut Serbian power generation by 40 percent, forcing the cash-strapped country to boost imports.
 
The economic impact of the floods is likely to be huge, devastating the agricultural sector vital to both the Serbian and Bosnian economies.

 
Macedonians collect humanitarian aid of food, hygienic products, clothing and bottled water intended for the flooded regions in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Skopje, Macedonia, May 18, 2014.Macedonians collect humanitarian aid of food, hygienic products, clothing and bottled water intended for the flooded regions in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Skopje, Macedonia, May 18, 2014.
x
Macedonians collect humanitarian aid of food, hygienic products, clothing and bottled water intended for the flooded regions in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Skopje, Macedonia, May 18, 2014.
Macedonians collect humanitarian aid of food, hygienic products, clothing and bottled water intended for the flooded regions in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Skopje, Macedonia, May 18, 2014.

“These are the kind of waters not seen in 1,000 years, let alone 100,” Prime Minister Vucic told a televised cabinet session.
 
Officials say about a million people — more than a quarter of the country's population — live in the worst-affected areas.

The hillside village of Horozovina, close to the northeastern town of Tuzla, was practically split in two by a landslide that swallowed eight houses. More than 100 other houses were under threat from the restless earth. Residents told stories of narrow escapes from injury or death.

"I am homeless. I have nothing left, not even a toothpick," said one resident, Mesan Ikanovic. "I ran out of the house barefoot, carrying children in my arms."

Vucic said 12 bodies had been recovered from Obrenovac after waters dropped from a peak of some three meters. At least three more have been reported dead elsewhere in Serbia.
 
In Bosnia, 19 people were confirmed dead by Saturday, with nine bodies recovered from the northeastern town of Doboj after what the regional police chief described as a ``tsunami'' of water 3-4 meters high.
 
A Reuters cameraman at the scene said half the town was still submerged. Bosnian soldiers distributed food and medical supplies by truck, boat and bulldozer. Cranes lifted medical workers into the top floors of some homes and removed stranded residents from others.
 
Serbs forced from homes

Zeljka Cvijanovic, prime minister of Bosnia's autonomous Serb Republic, compared the devastation to Bosnia's 1992-95 war, in which 100,000 people died.
 
“The damage is such that we cannot recall even after the war,” she told reporters.
 
In Serbia, more than 20,000 people have been forced from their homes. Officials there fear more flooding later Sunday as floodwaters travel down the Sava and reach the country.

Serbian officials said that the flood level might be lower than initially expected, because the river broke barriers upstream in Croatia and Bosnia. Experts said they expect Sava floodwaters to rise for two more days, then subside.

In Croatia, the government said one person had died and two were missing in flooded Sava river villages in an eastern corner of the country near Bosnia and Serbia. The army used amphibious vehicles to help evacuate some 3,000 people.
 
‘I carried my kids out on my back, then waited 12 hours to be rescued myself,” said 40-year-old Obrenovac resident Dragan Todorovic, who spent the night in a Belgrade sports hall with dozens of other families. “The house was new, built two years ago for 100,000 euros. What now?”

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
May 21, 2014 4:59 PM
Let them call on their God for help because that rainfall is behond man's control (God have mercy on them)

by: Navi from: Los angeles
May 19, 2014 12:35 PM
Climate is changing, technology is changing, people are changing. If that was natural disaster thats only the beginning, if it was man made rain by HAARP again its only the beginning

by: Dusan from: Canada
May 18, 2014 1:25 PM
I would like to thank the House of Israel. Thank You.
Serbs never forget friends. i write this with tears in my eyes.
Thank you - that is all i want to say.

by: salome wa peter from: kenya
May 18, 2014 7:52 AM
This is a natural disaster which can occur anywhere else at any time.whoever is willing to assist,please come forward and rescue these peopple.They have lost all their possesions and are entirely at the mercy of you and me.

by: Duane Kimball from: NE USA
May 18, 2014 7:10 AM
What is it about climate change that Americans are so slow to understand?
In Response

by: Shawn B from: Marion, Indiana
May 22, 2014 1:16 PM
This is truly tragic for thousands, my heart goes out to them, and my financial support does also. Let's not make this a political debate and insult contest. If you can help by means other than boosting your political agenda, please, do.
In Response

by: Leslie Graham from: Brisbane
May 19, 2014 1:29 AM
They fail to understand that the loss of 75% of Arctic sea ice volume in the last 35 years due to man-made global warming has affected the course of the Jet Stream - among other effects.
I watched this whole storm developing over the last week or so.
This level of event is already happening more and more often and now that the PDO has switched and the heat that has been building up in the deep oceans is coming back to the surface this year it's only going to get worse in the next 18 months.
Stand by for massive flooding in some regions and severe heat and drought in others. Exactly what the climate scientists have been trying to warn us about for over thirty years now.
Now it's happening and some blinkered fools are STILL trying to deny it.
Pathological denial in the face of shocking reality is a common trait among the weak-minded and cowardly.
In Response

by: Dave from: Canada
May 18, 2014 2:07 PM
You think the Jetstream is a result of American mentality regarding climate change?? You're a special lil thing aren't you.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs