Flash floods kill 21 people after torrential rain in Macedonia
At least 21 people have died after the Macedonian capital of Skopje was hit by torrential rain and floods.
Six people are missing and more than 60 were hospitalised, as police and army helicopters searched for survivors and evacuated hundreds from the flood zone.
Heavy rain, strong winds and thunderstorms hit the city and its northern suburbs late on Saturday night. Special police, army units and firefighters were sent to the worst-hit areas as well as the nearby villages of Stajkovci, Aracinovo and Smiljkovci.
Hundreds of homes and vehicles were destroyed by the floods, roads are still impassable and several areas are without electricity. Authorities said more than 1,000 people had been evacuated so far.
Mayor of Skopje Koce Trajanovski described the damage as "the worst Skopje has ever seen". Health Minister Nikola Todorov said the death toll could soon rise. He said the government planned to declare a state of emergency shortly for two weeks in the most affected region.
"We can officially report 18 people dead and just a while ago we have received the reports of three more deaths, so the total number will be probably 21 victims," Mr Todorov said.
Most victims drowned in their houses when torrents swept through the area. Meteorologists said more torrential rain and strong winds were expected late last night.
Authorities urged people to stay at home and to only drink bottled water.
Further north in Croatia, stormy winds have disrupted roads at the height of the tourist season.