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News 06 Mar 15

Thousands Marooned as Heavy Snow Hits Serbia

About 10,000 villagers in south-west Serbia have been snowed in and 30,000 others have no electricity after heavy snow closed roads and cut power supplies.

B92, Tanjug

 

All access roads to villages in the Sjenica region in south-west Serbia were impassable on Friday after heavy snowfall, leaving about 10,000 people snowed in.

In the nearby Zlatibor county, about 30,000 people were left without electricity because the supply from about 500 electrical stations was disrupted by the snow.

“As the snow has not been cleared, we have trouble approaching [the stations]. All our teams are out in the field and help will arrive during the day,” Dusan Sunjevaric from the public power supply company told Tanjug.

The snow in south-west and central Serbia had been falling for more than 24 hours. However, according to the police’s Sector for Emergency Situations, there is no danger that the country could face serious floods like in May last year.

Predrag Maric, the head of Sector for Emergency Situations, said that snow and rainfall had caused floods in Koceljeva, a town in the west of the country, from where 27 people have been evacuated. But he said there was no cause for panic.

“This situation cannot be compared to the one in May [2014]. We will be on alert until Saturday,” Maric told Tanjug on Friday.

The Serbian Hydrometeorological Service said meanwhile that there is no danger that some of the bigger rivers in the country will flood and that the flood protection system is under control.

“Everyone received information in time and is prepared, there is no need for citizens to worry about heavy rainfall,” Jugoslav Nikolic, the head of the service, told Tanjug.

He added that although some smaller streams might flood, the rainfall is expected to stop over the weekend and that the conditions will stabilize.

Public company Serbian Railways announced on Friday morning that during the night the snow had damaged tracks on the lines heading to Nis in the east of the country and to the Montenegrin port of Bar.

In May 2014, Serbia was hit by heavy floods that forced more than 30,000 people to evacuate, including almost the entire town of Obrenovac.

The Serbian government’s damage assessment report put the total cost of repairing the damage at about 1.5 billion euro. This includes the damage done to homes, infrastructure, agriculture and to educational and other facilities.

The authorities said 485 houses were completely destroyed by the deluge while 12,000 hectares of land could not be usable for agricultural production in 2015.

 

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