June 23, 2020 / 11:36 AM / 14 days ago

Serbia and Bosnia hit by heavy rain, flooding

BELGRADE/SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Torrential rain and flooding in Serbia and Bosnia forced authorities to declare a state of emergency on Tuesday, as swollen rivers damaged bridges, roads and power lines.

Serbia, which is also battling a rising number of coronavirus cases, declared an emergency situation in 12 municipalities in the country’s west and southwest.

In the city of Kraljevo, the Ibar river tore two floating restaurants from their moorings, smashing them against a bridge.

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said the authorities had moved quickly to limit the damage.

“All necessary machinery is deployed in the field ... machines are clearing debris from waterways to prevent flash flooding,” Brnabic told a news conference.

In other places, smaller rivers burst their banks, cutting off roads and power lines.

“Members of the Department for Emergency Situations ... are providing assistance to the population and evacuating,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The rain is expected to subside overnight and the skies to clear by morning.

“Summer is arriving at last,” Brnabic said.

In 2014 dozens of people died in Serbia in massive floods which also pushed the European Union candidate country into recession.

In Bosnia’s northeast, heavy rains caused flooding and landslides, prompting authorities in towns in the Tuzla region to declare a state of natural disaster.

Traffic was blocked on the main road connecting Tuzla and the capital Sarajevo, hundreds of buildings and homes were badly damaged and several families were evacuated.

Rivers also flooded large areas of agricultural land and washed away bridges. Many roads and houses were flooded in eastern Bosnian towns bordering Serbia.

Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic in Belgrade and Daria Sito-Sucic in Sarajevo; Editing by Ed Osmond

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