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news 20 May 14

Serbia Struggles to Control Flood Disaster

As evacuations of people from the town of Obrenovac on the river Sava continue, the level of the river Danube has continued to rise.

Bojana Barlovac
BIRN
Belgrade

Aleksandar Marsenic, head of emergency situations, on Tuesday said that some 2,000 people had been evacuated overnight from Obrenovac, 30km southwest of Belgrade.

“The evacuation of people in Obrenovac continues,” Marsenic said.

Rescue teams in the town of Obrenovac. Photo by Beta/AP Darko Vojinovic


During the night, six Serbian police helicopters and five from abroad took part in the action but had to stop two hours later as only 30 people were ready to get on the helicopters.

The total death toll from the floods in Serbia stands at 20, while over 30,000 people have been evacuated since Thursday when the country declared a state of emergency.

The Interior Ministry said teams of rescuers on Tuesday morning started to collect dead livestock in Obrenovac to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Meanwhile, the level of the river Danube is continuing to rise but is still below the level of an emergency.

Local authorities in towns on the Danube and Velika Morava in central Serbia are working to prevent the same kind of devastation seen in Obrenovac.

The town of Smederevska Palanka on the river Jasenica of the Danube basin has been surrounded by water on all sides, with aerial photographs showing the roofs of houses poking out from a de facto lake.

Photo by Sava Janjic on Twitter


For seven days, the 30,000 inhabitants have not had running water and schools have been closed. Local authorities say that the damage is enormous and that they do not know when the water supply, which has been contaminated with faeces, will be restored.

The situation is little better in the nearby town of Smederevo where the level of the Danube has reached 6.6 metres.

Some 25,000 sandbags have been placed along the banks of the Danube to secure them and 15,000 more are to follow.

Maintaining the wall of sandbags in Belgrade continues.

The authorities are also checking the quality of tap water, which for now remains fine.

A free hotline operating around the clock with the number 112 has been set up for all those in need of help during the flooding.

People who want to offer help can do so by donating food, water, clothes and blankets.

Police have set up a call centre to provide more information about how to help, with these phone numbers: + 381 11 312 0741, + 381 11 312 0741, + 381 11 312 0739, + 381 11 312 0739, + 381 11 312 9939, + 381 11 312 9939, + 381 11 312 0742, + 381 11 312 0742, + 381 11 312 0646, + 381 11 312 0646, and the email: [email protected]

The authorities say it is the worst rain to hit Serbia in well over a century. Last Wednesday, as much rain fell in one day as usually falls in a month.

Aid shipments have also been arriving. The President’s office on Sunday said the United Arab Emirates had promised to donate $10 million. The EU also offered aid on Monday.

An aid campaign for Serbia has been organised online as well. People have been using their Twitter and Facebook accounts to share information on missing people and circulate addresses of places to which people can deliver aid as well as general information.

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