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news 19 May 14

Death Toll Rises in Flood-Stricken Bosnia

The number of victims of the floods and landslides in Bosnia continues to rise as the receding waters leave behind a trail of devastation - and as fears grow that wartime mines may have been deposited elesewhere

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

Unconfirmed reports say at least 30 people have died in the devastating floods that have hit Bosnia. Most perished in unexpected flash floods and sudden landslides that have marooned towns and left thousands homeless.

  Photo Army Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Samac, Orasje, Brcko and Bijeljina in the north and east remain virtually under water after a tidal wave of flood water surged nothwards from central Bosnia towards the river Sava.

The torrential rainfall has also devastated Olovo, Maglaj, Zavidovici, Doboj, Sanski Most and many other places, as the rivers Drina, Bosna, Vrbas, Una and Sana overflowed.

Although the rain halted more or less at the weekend, the waters of these rivers have continued to rise, which is why the flood zone has continued to widen.

Hundreds of landslides were reported after the floods started receding, destroying thousands of homes and other facilities, and covering others in thick mud and dirt.

  Photo AP/ Amel Emric

Citizens of Brcko, Samac and other places near the banks of Sava were evacuated on Sunday after thousands already left their homes in Bijeljina and elsewhere.

As the embankments of the Sava continue to overflow in several places, the floods could yet worsen even if the skies remain clear.

Anto Domic, the mayor of Brcko, said the broken embankments in the nearby town of Orasje threatened to cause more floods in his area.

Landslides were reported around Sarajevo, Zenica, Olovo, Tuzla, Zvornik and Bratunac, prompting thousands to pack and leave for the homes of family and friends, or for organized collective shelters.

The situation has, however, reportedly eased in Maglaj, Olovo and Sanski Most, which were flooded last week. There, local people have started cleaning up the metres-deep layer of mud, dirt and garbage that the water has deposited.

As the water recedes from some areas, concerns grow for health and security.

“The health situation after the floods can be marked as unsure, with a tendency to get worse,” the Federation entity Health Care Minister, Rusmir Mesihovic, said.

  Photo AP/ Amel Emric

Due to the floods and landslides, there are also concerns about thousands of mines that were left over from the 1992-95 war in Bosnia.

The fear is that the floods have may moved the mines and that many areas may now be littered with unmarked potentially explosive devices.

The areas seen as most endangered by moving mines are Doboj, Maglaj, Olovo, the Una-Sana Canton in the north-west and Posavina in the north.

The Bosnian Mine Action Center, MAC, warned that mines may have floated even as far as the Black Sea after being carried downstream through the Sava to the Danube and then out to sea.

Meanwhile, the whole country has mobilised to help the victims of the flooded areas. Food, water, medicines and other needs are being collected in towns that were not flooded and distributed to those most in need.  

Hundreds of students from Sarajevo have gone to Maglaj, Zavidovici and Doboj to help out while food and other donations are being transported there daily.

Help is coming also from outside of the country, from both ordinary people and governments.

Soldiers, police, members of civil protection crews, rafting clubs and other citizens are all involved in rescuing people and in supplying them with food, water and necessities.

The governments of both Bosnian entities are organizing help for evacuees and for people who remain trapped in their homes and cut off from communication.

 

b Photo Mirsad Arnautovic, BIRN

Photo Mirsad Arnautovic, BIRN

Photo Mirsad Arnautovic, BIRN

Photo Mirsad Arnautovic, BIRN

 

 

Photo AP/ Amel Emric

Photo AP/ Amel Emric

 

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