Balkans: Bosnia and Serbia floods leave at least 44 dead amid new land-mine risk. Tens of thousands evacuated – Updated 190514 1105z

New Red Cross update at bottom of page

SKY NEWS 11:35am UK, Monday 19 May 2014:

Balkans Flooding Triggers Landmine Warning

The worst floods in the region for more than half a century kill 44 people and force tens of thousands from their homes.

International rescue teams are battling against thousands of landslides as they try to reach victims of the unprecedented flooding in the Balkans.

The disaster has also prompted a warning that survivors could be at risk from landminesleft over from the war in the 90s, which may have been dislodged by the water which has also washed away the warning signs.

A woman and her son move away from the downwash of an European Union Force (EUFOR) helicopter after being rescued from the flooded Serici village.
A woman and her son are rescued from the flooded village of Serici

At least 44 people have lost their lives in the disaster across Bosnia and Serbia, with the death tolls expected to rise. Twenty of the confirmed deaths recorded in Bosnia occured in Doboj, while in Serbia some 16 bodies were found.

Around 3,000 landslides have been reported across the region blocking roads and damaging homes, as 10,000 people have been evacuated from the worst affected areas of north Bosnia.

Children sit in a bus after being evacuated from the flooded town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade
Children sit on a bus after being evacuted from Obrenovac

Thousands of people have fled from the submerged Serbian town of Obrenovac. One of the evacuees, 40-year-old father Dragan Todorovic, said: “I carried my kids out on my back, then waited 12 hours to be rescued myself.

“The house was new, built two years ago for 100,000 euros. What now?”

The police are really worried about looting and trying to protect those thousands of empty homes.

Balkans floods.
Many residents of flood-hit towns had to be evacuated by helicopter

Some 20 thousand people live in Obrenovac. They have all left because it is far too dangerous and inevitably the death toll will rise in the coming days as the true extent of this disaster becomes apparent.

The authorities are working exceptionally hard to make sure people are out and away from danger. People have had to leave their homes with nothing at all, just the clothes on their back in many instances.

The relief effort is being bolstered by Russia and other European countries sending teams in, to comb through homes that have been destroyed.

Balkans floods.
A group of residents is evacuated on an amphibious vehicle from Obrenovac

Teams are battling to save key power stations including the giant site at Kostolac near the capital Belgrade.

Alma Muslibegovic, a spokeswoman for the country’s EPS power firm, said: “The army, police, volunteers and Kostolac employees are using all mechanisation and are piling up sandbags to slow the river flow and prevent it from entering the power generation system.”

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said a fire and flooding of surface mines at the 1,300 megawatt (MW) Kolubara coal-fired power plant southwest of Belgrade had caused damage of “at least 100 million euros (81m)”.

Balkans floods.
A man and his dog are evacuated from the town of Obrenovac

Authorities say the economic impact of the floods will be huge, devastating the agricultural sector vital to both the Serbian and Bosnian economies.

“The danger today is less than it was yesterday, but we have to control the Sava as much as we can,” Mr Vucic told a televised Cabinet session.

“These are the kind of waters not seen in 1,000 years, let alone 100.”

18th May 2014:

CBC NEWS:
 

Bosnia floods create new land-mine risk in Balkans

Raging water and landslides kill 25, forces tens of thousands to flee

The Associated Press Posted: May 18, 2014 6:18 AM ET Last Updated: May 18, 2014 6:18 AM ET

Serbian police officers carry a man from a military helicopter during flood evacuation from Obrenovac, some 30 kilometers (18 miles) southwest of Belgrade Serbia, Saturday, May 17, 2014.   

Serbian police officers carry a man from a military helicopter during flood evacuation from Obrenovac, some 30 kilometers (18 miles) southwest of Belgrade Serbia, Saturday, May 17, 2014. (Darko Vojinovic/Associated Press)

Record-high floods and landslides have swept away people, homes and roads in the Balkans over the past week, but in Bosnia another deadly menace is hiding in the flood rubble: land mines.

Authorities have spent two decades trying to unearth the 1 million land mines planted during Bosnias 1992-95 war. Before the floods, nearly 120,000 remained in 9,416 marked minefields.

Then floods washed away river banks and fueled landslides that have unearthed minefield warning signs and, in many cases, the unexploded booby traps themselves.

Officials at Bosnias Mine Action Center say their agency will deploy mine-hunting scouts starting Monday and report that mines already are appearing in unexpected places. They fear that some could float all the way to the Black Sea.

Tens of thousands fled their homes Saturday in Bosnia and Serbia to escape the worst flooding in a century.

Rapidly rising rivers surged into homes, sometimes reaching up to the second floors, sending people climbing to rooftops for rescue.

BALKANS-FLOOD/ 

Serbian army soldiers transport people in the town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade on Saturday. (Marko Djurica/Reuters)

Hundreds were also evacuated in Croatia.

Authorities said 25 people have died but warned the death toll could rise. Tens of thousands of homes were left without electricity or drinking water.

Landslides triggered by the floods also raised the risk of injury or death from land mines left over from Bosnias 1992-95 war. The landslides swept away many of the carefully placed warning signs around the minefields.

Three months worth of rain has fallen on the region in three days this week, creating the worst floods since records began 120 years ago.

Observed from the air, almost a third of Bosnia, mostly its northeast corner, resembled a huge muddy lake, with houses, roads and rail lines submerged. Admir Malagic, a spokesman for Bosnias Security Ministry, said about a million people over a quarter of the countrys population live in the affected area.

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

Izetbegovic was touring Maglaj, hard hit by floods. As the waters mostly withdrew on Saturday, Maglaj was covered in mud and debris, with residents checking damage and bringing furniture out in the streets to dry.

Everything is destroyed, but we are happy to be alive, said Maglaj resident Zijad Omerovic.

In the eastern Bosnian town of Bijeljina, some 10,000 people were being evacuated Saturday after the rain-swollen Sava River pushed through flood defences, endangering four villages outside the town. The peak of the Sava flood wave was expected in Bijeljina later Saturday, before advancing to Serbia.

We need everything, we are underwater, mayor Mico Micic exclaimed.

BALKANS-FLOOD/ 

People stranded in the Serbian town of Maglaj wait for rescue after the Bosna River swelled to record levels. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

300 landslides

In eastern Croatia, the overflowing Sava spread over villages and farm land, sending hundreds fleeing.

The rain caused nearly 300 landslides in Bosnia, burying dozens of houses and cars and further complicating relief efforts.

They come unannounced in just a few seconds, said Fahrudin Solak, a Civil Protection official.

Officials in Bosnia say 17 people died and more bodies could be found as water recedes from dozens of cities. In some places, people had to be rescued by helicopter from their roofs.

Many in Bosnia lost homes they had only just rebuilt after the war, which claimed 100,000 lives and devastated the impoverished country.

In Serbia, eight deaths were reported and emergency crews and soldiers were using boats and helicopters to rescue thousands trapped in the town of Obrenovac, near Belgrade. Authorities also ordered residents of another nearby small town, Baric, to leave immediately Saturday afternoon. Many hurriedly climbed into buses and military trucks to get away.

Officials said more than 16,000 people have been evacuated from flood-hit regions in Serbia, many finding shelter in schools and sports halls. Lines of mattresses covered the floors of Belgrade schools, with frightened survivors describing unstoppable torrents that surged in a matter of minutes.

Par7881559 

A man carries a child during the evacuation of a family by boat in the flooded town of Obrenovac, 40 kilometres west of Belgrade. (Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty Images)

Mirjana Senic, who lives in the center of Obrenovac, said that we thought we had it pretty bad (but) only when they evacuated us and when we actually saw the amount of water in other parts of town did we realize that we were lucky.

Marko Strkalj, another resident, said a lot of people were still in their apartments. There were a lot of elderly and people with handicaps who didnt want to leave their homes.

Serbias biggest power plant threatened

The flooding in Obrenovac is threatening the Nikola Tesla power plant, Serbias biggest. Plant capacity had already been cut after a nearby coal mine was flooded and authorities urged residents to save energy to avoid brown-outs.

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic told a press conference that new wave of flooding on the Sava River will hit Sunday evening.

Our primary concern is to protect the power plant, said Vucic. We are doing all we can.

Thousands of volunteers responded to governments appeal to build up flood defenses along the Sava. Bused in from all over the country, the volunteers worked around the clock, stacking up sandbag barricades with soldiers and emergency crews. The town of Sremska Mitrovica was a particular concern.

You can feel the solidarity everywhere. People are doing everything they can. I am seeing children and older people shoveling sand and carrying sandbags and no one finds this labor hard, said volunteer Marinko Trivunovic.

Im proud of the fact that Im from Belgrade and Ive come here to help these people to save their homes. By saving this city, were saving the whole country, said volunteer Nemanja Radovic.

International help poured into the two nations. A Russian team joined the rescue efforts in Serbia. Rescue teams from Luxembourg, Slovenia and Croatia were already in Bosnia, and others from the U.K., Austria and Macedonia were expected.

Residents in both countries mobilized through Facebook or other social media, collecting tons of food, blankets and clothing for the crisis-hit areas.

From the Italian Open in Rome, Serbias best tennis player, Novak Djokovic, appealed for flood volunteers on his Twitter account.

Support for everyone! Lets help the endangered! Join the aid action! he tweeted.

Related Stories

17th May 2014:

Balkans: Worst Floods In A Century Kill 20

Tens of thousands have fled their homes after Serbia and Bosnia experienced three months of rainfall in just three days.

Tens of thousands have fled their homes in Bosnia and Serbia after three months of rain fell on the region in just three days.

Boats and helicopters have been used to evacuate those affected by floodwaters, which reached the second floor of homes in some parts of Bosnia, where 12 have died.

Security Ministry spokesman�Admir�Malagic�said approximately a million people, more than a quarter of the population, live in the affected area.

People receive food from Serbian army soldiers in the flooded town of Obrenovac.
People receive food in the flooded town of Obrenovac

In the eastern town of Bijeljina, around 100,000 people were evacuated on Saturday after flood defences were unable to hold back the rain-swollen Sava River.

Mayor Mico Micic said: �We need everything, we are under water.�

The rain has also caused almost 300 landslides, burying dozens of houses and cars.

Many have lost homes they have only just finished rebuilding after the 1992-95 war which killed 100,000 people and devastated the country.

Serbian rows a boat past flooded ambulance vehicles in the flooded town of Obrenovac.
Boats and helicopters are being used to rescue people

Mines from that conflict litter Bosnia�s mountains, and many warning signs have been swept away, increasing the risk of deadly accidents.

More than 15,000 people have been evacuated in Serbia, where eight people have died.

Most of those who have fled their homes have found shelter in schools and sports halls.

Soldiers and emergency crews are using boats and helicopters to rescue thousands of people trapped in the town of Obrenovac, near the capital, Belgrade.

People evacuated from their flooded houses cross a bridge in the town of Obrenovac, 40 kilometers west of Belgrade, on May 17, 2014.
Many people have lost homes rebuilt after the 1992-95 war

The flooding there is threatening the country�s biggest power plant, Nikola Tesla.

Capacity at the plant has already been cut after a coal mine nearby was submerged.

Residents of the nearby town of Baric�have also been ordered to leave immediately, with many leaving on buses and military trucks.

There was a slight respite for some parts of the country on Saturday when the rain eased, but Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic warned a new flood wave on the Sava will hit on Sunday evening.

A man observes the high level of the Sava river in Sremska Mitrovica, 90 kilometers west of Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, May 17, 2014.
A man peers over at the high level of the Sava river in Sremska Mitrovica

�Our primary concern is to protect the power plant,� he said.

�We are doing all we can.�

Thousands of volunteers have been bused in from all over the country after responding to a government appeal to help build flood defences along the river.

Residents have used social media to help collect food, blankets and clothes for crisis-hit areas.

People build a dam made up of sandbags  by the bank of the Sava river in Sremska Mitrovica, 90 kilometers west of Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, May 17, 2014.
People build a dam of sandbags by the Sava river

Serbian tennis player Novak�Djokovic has appealed for people to help. He wrote on his Twitter account: �Support for everyone! Let�s help the endangered! Join the aid action!�

Both countries have appealed for international help and many European Union countries have sent equipment and emergency crews.

A Russian team has joined the rescue effort and a team from the UK is expected to arrive by the end of the day.� � Sky News

Balkans Worst Floods In A Century Kill 20

�(Video credit: iPhoneHD)

Weather warnings for SERBIA (link)

Weather warnings for BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (link)

ESTOFEX European Storm Forecast Experiment

Red Cross supports response in Serbia and Bosnia during catastrophic floods

Published: 16 May 2014 17:01 CET www.ifrc.org

Red Cross teams working in close cooperation with the emergency management sector and local emergency headquarters have been helping evacuate the population affected by severe floods in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The region has suffered unprecedented rainfall in recent weeks.

More than 4,000 have been evacuated so far as a result of what government sources have called the biggest Serbian disaster in recent history.

In Serbia, 420 Red Cross staff and volunteers assissted with evacuations in Valjevo and Lazarevac. 820 blankets, 130 rubber boots and 4,430 meat cans have already been distributed in affected municipalities. The operation was hindered in some parts of the country due to broken bridges and inaccessible roads. The urgent distribution of ready-to-eat meals, drinking water, blankets, mattresses, cots, rubber boots, hygiene items will continue over the weekend.

This is the third response operation the Serbia Red Cross has been involved in this year and the resources are stretched to the maximum as a result.

Depleted stocks

In Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities have declared a state of emergency as hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes in 14 municipalities, including Doboj, Maglaj, Brcko District, Olovo, Bijeljina, Lukavac, Kladanj, Srebrenica, Gradacac and Zvornik. The Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina delivered food parcels and drinking water on foot where the roads are blocked but also by jeep and boat. The society said it would continue to provide daily meals and drinking water for the affected population.

In the northern part of Bosnia, the society�s multi-purpose rescue teams, in cooperation with the BiH Departments of Public Security, set up temporary accommodation for the people who were evacuated. In Brcko District, the Red Cross teams performed medical evacuations and built sand bag flood defences.

The worst flood was reported in the capital Sarajevo and Tuzla regions, in the central parts of the country, as well as in the cities of Gorazde and Bijeljina. More flooding continues to threaten other parts of the country blocking the road access to some of the main cities.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies appeals for funds for both countries to replenishing stocks and for early recovery measures and materials through the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, which will be used to replenish stocks and to cover early recovery measures and materials.

So far, the Serbia Red Cross has assessed the need for materials and additional equipment for water drainage, dehumidifiers assistance and replenishment of its depleted emergency stock of blankets, mattresses, cots, rubber boots and food items.

Red Cross Update

The Balkans: Worst floods in Century continue to cause havoc

Published: 18 May 2014 12:32 CET

The Red Cross societies of both countries have been actively engaged in rescue- and operation activities, providing relief and helping setting up centers for those evacuated. Red Cross of Serbia

Although the water has receded in some areas, the worst floods in more than a century continue to create havoc in large parts of both Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

While thousands are still waiting to be rescued from their flooded homes, tens of thousands have been evacuated staying with families, in sports centers or in schools as their houses have been flooded, in some cases almost submerged in water. In Serbia and estimated 300,000 and in Bosnia and Herzegovina additional 50,000 people are without water or electricity, some times living in unsafe and insanitary conditions created by the floods.

Almost one third of Bosnia is affected by the floods with houses, roads and railway lines being submerged in the worst affected North Eastern part of the country. A state of emergency has been declared in 14 municipalities, while cities like Maglaj and Doboj were almost completely submerged and hundreds of people had to be evacuated from rooftops during Saturday.

A vast number of landslides have worsened the situation and relief efforts, and there are reports that landmines buried during the conflict and not yet removed are in some instances being shifted with the landslides adding the dangers of people living in the areas as well as rescuers.

River still rising

In Serbia the worst affected area seems to be around the town of Obrenovac, south west of Belgrade, where around 10,000 people are still stranded. Obrenovac is also home to the biggest power plant in Serbia, which is at risk of being flooded, potentially causing abruption of power supply to large parts of the country. Hundreds of officials and volunteers are trying to build banks along the river Sava running through Obrenovac but reports are mixed whether these efforts are successful or not.

While water levels in some rivers are receding, the river Sava and two other rivers are still rising, forecast to reach their peak during Sunday night or later, so the danger is far from over.

Authorities in both countries have become hesitant providing numbers of casualties as many houses and areas have not yet been reached and casualties could grow.

Rescue and relief

The Red Cross societies of both countries have been actively engaged in rescue- and operation activities, providing relief and helping setting up centers for those evacuated.

The Red Cross of Serbia has a clear and defined role in the national emergency response, and specially trained teams as well as thousands of staff and volunteers are assisting with continued evacuations as well as providing relief items.

The Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina (RCSBiH) have mobilized multipurpose teams in the affected areas, and staff and volunteers are assisting authorities with evacuations as well as providing blankets, mattresses, drinking water, food and hygiene kits, rubber boots and water disinfectants to more than 10,000 people (as the situation is still unfolding, the numbers of beneficiaries are increasing). Relief efforts are naturally being hampered by the destroyed infrastructure and difficult conditions but both jeeps and boats are being used, while often the volunteers wade through the waters to deliver relief items. Many volunteers and their families in both countries are themselves affected by the floods.

In Brcko, one of the worst affected areas, Red Cross volunteers have also assisted putting sand banks along the River Sava trying to prevent it from flooding dozens of villages which are still in danger as the water level continues to rise. Thousand of hectares of crops and farmland have been destroyed meaning people have not only lost their homes but also their livelihoods.

Sympathy and support

Sympathy for the affected people and support to the relief efforts of the two National Societies have streamed in nationally and from across Europe and beyond.

The Red Cross of Serbia has begun its own collection via their Facebook site, whilst embassies, international agencies and European governments have offered their support in terms of cash, rescue teams and sophisticated pumping equipment. A number of sister National Societies have offered assistance to both Red Cross Societies and some � among them Montenegro, Croatia, F.Y.R. Macedonia, Denmark, Switzerland and Austria � began collections via their websites or in cooperation with mobile phone operators already on Saturday, while thousands of people in the two countries have volunteered to assist their countrymen.

The IFRC is supporting the relief and the planning for recovery through its delegations in Sarajevo and Budapest. Two applications for support from the Disaster Emergency Relief Fund are being finalized.

One thought on “Balkans: Bosnia and Serbia floods leave at least 44 dead amid new land-mine risk. Tens of thousands evacuated – Updated 190514 1105z

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