More flooding devastation for the Balkans

AMER COHADZIC
Last updated 04:42 07/08/2014

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Heavy rainfall has caused rivers to burst their banks on Wednesday (local time), killing one person and flooding houses and roads in the same areas of the Balkans that were devastated in May by the worst floods in 120 years.

A 65-year-old man drowned late Tuesday (local time) after rushing waters flooded his home in the town of Banja Koviljaca in western Serbia, and in Banja Luka, Bosnia, a car was swept away by the water and the driver is missing.

Bosnian authorities declared a state of emergency as rescuers rushed to the central and northern parts of the country to evacuate people, many for the second time this year. In the northern village of Donji Hrgovi, homes were flooded within a few minutes overnight. Residents escaped before the roads and bridges became unpassable.

In nearby Gracanica, Senisa Isinovic said the water came suddenly during the night and quickly flooded the lower level of her house.

"We got up. We tried to save things, but the kitchen was gone - all of it. Everything we had in the kitchen. The food is gone as well," she said.

Rain started Tuesday and forecast says it will continue to fall until Thursday.

In both Serbia and Bosnia, surging waters have flooded hundreds of homes, caused landslides, blocked local roads and swept over streets in many towns, whose sewage systems were unable to take huge quantities of water at once. Dozens of people have been evacuated from their homes.

The two countries have just started repairing the damage caused by heavy rain in Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia in May, causing 51 deaths and billions in damages. The flooding affected 40 percent of Bosnia, wrecking the main agriculture industry, wiping out infrastructure and forcing almost a quarter of the population of 4 million to leave their homes.

Many of them say they are so disappointed with authorities, and that they stopped expecting any help from the government.

"We can't believe the authorities anymore," said Sevala Muftic, from Gracanica. "Only in God we can believe, to be honest with you."

Neighboring Croatia also has been hit by extreme weather in the middle of the tourist season, which is vital for the country's economy. Authorities said a firefighting plane is being used to extinguish a wildfire in a mined area near the coastal town of Split. The fire was caused by thunder striking a pine forest.

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- AP

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