At least 37 dead in massive Balkan floods

Soldiers, police and volunteers battled to protect power plants in Serbia from rising flood waters on Sunday as the death toll from the Balkan region’s worst rainfall in more than a century rose to at least 37, Voice of America reports.

Twelve bodies were recovered from the worst-hit Serbian town of Obrenovac, 30 kilometers southwest of the capital, Belgrade.

“The situation is catastrophic,” Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said, and warned that the death toll would likely rise.

About 300 landslides, triggered by unprecedented rains in Bosnia, have left thousands of people homeless, officials said Sunday, while thousands more have fled their homes in neighboring Croatia and Serbia.

Throughout hilly Bosnia, floods are triggering landslides covering roads, homes and whole villages. Stranded villagers often are being rescued by helicopter.

Three months’ worth of rain fell on the region in a three-day burst, creating the worst floods since rainfall measurements began 120 years ago.
Russian cargo planes carrying boats, generators and food joined rescue teams from around Europe and thousands of local volunteers in evacuating people and building flood defenses after the River Sava, swollen by days of torrential rain, burst its banks.

Rains eased and flood waters receded on Sunday in some of the worst-hit areas of Serbia and Bosnia, but the River Sava was forecast to continue rising.

Pope Francis has asking the world to pray for victims of the flooding. In his weekly address at the Vatican he said that he feels personal closeness to those living through pain and trouble.