UK & World News

  • 19 May 2014, 11:49

Balkans Flooding Triggers Landmine Warning

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.

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.

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.

Some 20,000 people living in Obrenovac have all left because it is too dangerous to remain and the death toll will rise in the coming days as the true extent of the disaster becomes apparent.

Rescue teams have been working 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 rescue teams in to comb through homes that have been destroyed.

Teams are also 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)".

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."