Serbia declared a state of emergency and asked Russia, the European Union and Slovenia to send humanitarian and technical assistance after three days of record rainfall triggered floods that have killed five people.
Rising rivers forced hundreds from their homes and blocked traffic on the main roads to neighbors Montenegro and Macedonia. Power outages hit thousands of homes and utility Elektroprivreda Srbije JP said it may have to import electricity after flooding forced it to halt work at the open-pit coal mines that feed Serbia’s biggest thermal plants.
Hydro-electric dams switched to emergency mode as water levels on the Danube and the Drina rivers swelled, leading to controlled overflows at the country’s biggest facility Djerdap, the utility said. In western Serbia, the Drina river was swollen by record water volumes, and the country’s government urged citizens to listen to rescuers and evacuate.
“You can’t fight nature,” Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic told a meeting of the crisis committee, according to state TV broadcaster RTS. “If you don’t listen to the rescuers, you risk your own life and and theirs.”
The government closed schools and asked the nation’s Commodity Reserve Agency to send 1,000 tons of corn to feed cattle in affected areas, mainly in western Serbia, toward Bosnia, which was also suffering from heavy floods. Bosnian army units evacuated people in the Maglaj area, where several bridges were under water, according to newspaper Dnevni avaz.
Rain over the next two days will beat any previous record, the Serbian weather service said. Belgrade, the capital, saw 108 liters of rain per square meter over 24 hours, Sanja Babic, the weather forecaster at the Serbian Hydro-meteorological Service, said by phone today.
It was the most in a single day “since the mid-19th century,” when measurements started, she said, and compared to a monthly record of 169 liters. Rainfall this month has so far reached 144 liters, she said.
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