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Feature: Catastrophic floods destroy lives in Serbia

English.news.cn   2014-05-17 17:07:14

BELGRADE, May 17 (Xinhua) -- In a sports center in Belgrade, volunteers are busy distributing essentials to 170 flood victims Saturday as trucks and buses bring more evacuees from the flood-hit town of Obrenovac, some 30 km south of the capital city.

The Sumice Sport and Cultural Centre is just one of several temporary shelters set up for flood victims over the past few days. Police said 2,500 people have been evacuated from Obrenovac, while 1,400 are still waiting to be rescued.

Serbian police estimated that even more should be evacuated from the flood zones in Obrenovac, which has been hit by heavy rainfall since Wednesday.

Jovana Aleksandrovic from the Red Cross, which has organized a group of some 20 volunteers to help evacuees from Obrenovac, told Xinhua that people affected by the floods started flocked to the capital on Thursday evening.

"They have some necessities: a mattress to sleep on, clothes to dress themselves and food," she said.

Obrenovac was almost entirely submerged after the river Kolubara, the eastern tributary to the River Sava, burst its banks. Resident Petar Avramovic was there when the water broke through the embankment. He lost his house and all his belongings.

"Obrenovac slowly turns into sea. I saw five to six people drowning at Jugopetrol (gas station), but I couldn't help them," he recalled.

Avramovic also expressed his worries about his children, who are stranded at a school in nearby settlement Rojkovac. He explained that contact was irregular because phone and power lines were down, and he was concerned after his children told him in their last contact that they had not received drinking water.

"I know that they are in that building with hundreds of people completely cut off from the rest of the world. I managed to contact them once today," he said.

Serbia has been hit by more than 30 hours of incessant downpour. At time of press, some 135,000 people were living without electricity and several towns and villages were virtually cut off from the outside world by swollen rivers.

The country has declared a state of emergency and appealed for assistance from Russia and the European Union.

Ivan Nikolic, who lived near the Nikola Telsa power plant on the very banks of the River Sava, said he saw the water level rise to two meters in just half an hour.

"It's a mess. Murky water carries everything on its way. There was no time to issue warnings," Nikolic said, sitting in the sports center.

Meanwhile, Slavica Djukic feels lucky that all eight members of her family were rescued. But Djukic also lost her house, and expressed worries about their future. "Where will we live, in these houses with only roofs sticking out of water? I have six children and it had been hard even without flood," she said, trying to remain calm.

So far, three people, including a rescue worker, have been reportedly killed as a result of the floods. Firemen, police and the army are still working in Obrenovac to rescue local people trapped in isolated homes.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said at a meeting of the Staff for Emergency Situations in Belgrade, "We have heavy casualties, of which we will not speak after this is all over. We have a catastrophic and a cataclysmic situation in Obrenovac, and a very difficult situation in Western and Central Serbia."

Russian emergency teams with rescue boats arrived on Friday and were heading for Obrenovac. Meanwhile, Israel, Turkey, Slovenia, Croatia, Austria and Luxembourg have all pledged to send aid, including expert teams, water pumps, helicopters and rescue boats.

Editor: Fu Peng
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