Sunday 21 December 2014

Thousands flee homes as Bosnia floods trigger landslides

Published 18/05/2014 | 11:55

People sit on a truck during evacuation from their flooded homes in the village of Dvorovi, near Bijeljina, Bosnia (AP)
People sit on a truck during evacuation from their flooded homes in the village of Dvorovi, near Bijeljina, Bosnia (AP)

Landslides triggered by unprecedented rains in Bosnia have left hundreds of people homeless, officials said on Sunday.

Thousands more have fled their homes in neighbouring Croatia and Serbia as Balkan countries battle the region's worst flooding since modern records began.

Throughout hilly Bosnia, floods are triggering landslides covering roads, homes and whole villages.

About 300 landslides have been reported and stranded villagers often are being rescued by helicopter.

"The situation is catastrophic," said Bosnia's refugee minister Adil Osmanovic.

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.

Serbian army soldiers evacuate people in amphibious vehicles in the flooded town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade
Serbian army soldiers evacuate people in amphibious vehicles in the flooded town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade
People wait in their homes to be rescued, like this young boy, in the flooded town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade. Emergency services pulled seven dead bodies from flooded homes in Bosnia over the weekend. Below the high waters have sunk roads and cars
A Bosnian man waves as he delivers food to people in the village of Dvorovi, near Bijeljina 200 kms north of Sarajevo, Bosnia
People evacuate in boats in the flooded town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade
People evacuate in a boat in the flooded town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade
People evacuate in boats in the flooded town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade
A Serbian army soldier throws candy bars to people as they are evacuated a boat in the flooded town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade
Serbian army soldiers evacuate people in a boat in the flooded town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade
Serbian army soldiers evacuate people in amphibious vehicle in the flooded town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade
People help old women out of a military truck during evacuation from Obrenovac, some 30 kilometers (18 miles) southwest of Belgrade Serbia
People look at a flooded street in the town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade
A dog stands in a flooded street in the town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade
A Serbian army soldier rows a boat as he searches for people to be evacuated in the town of Obrenovac
A woman cries after being evacuated from her flooded house in the town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade
People stand on a terrace of their flooded house as they wait to be evacuated in the town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade
A Serbian army soldier evacuates people from a school in the flooded town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade
People wait in their homes to be rescued, like this young boy, in the flooded town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade. Emergency services pulled seven dead bodies from flooded homes in Bosnia over the weekend. Below the high waters have sunk roads and cars

Observed from the air, almost a third of Bosnia, chiefly in the north-east, resembles a huge muddy lake, with houses, roads and rail lines submerged.

Officials say about a million people - more than a quarter of the country's population - live in the worst-affected areas.

While water levels are receding in some parts of Bosnia, land flanking the Sava River remains submerged. Hundreds of people have been plucked by rescue helicopters from flooded towns and villages.

An estimated 10,000 people have been forced from their homes in flooded villages around the eastern town of Bijeljina, where the Sava River broke through defences on Saturday.

In the east of neighbouring Croatia, two people are missing and hundreds have fled their homes as the Sava River also breached flood barriers there. The overflowing river rolled over villages and farm land in the relatively flat terrain.

In Serbia, more than 20,000 people have been forced from their homes. Officials fear more flooding later on Sunday as floodwaters travel down the Sava and reach the country.

Serbian officials said that the flood wave 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.

"What happened to us happens not once in 100 years, but once in 1,000 years," Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vucic said at a government meeting broadcast live on Serbian television. "But it should be over by Wednesday."

At least 25 people have died in the Balkan floods.

Press Association

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