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Serbia, Bosnia hit by worst floods in 120 years



London, May 20 (IANS) Balkan countries of Serbia and Bosnia have been battered by the worst floods in 120 years after the region in six days since on May 14 received rainfall that it normally gets over three months,officials said.

The floods have claimed more than 40 lives and have severely affected 3.8 million of the two Balkan countries’ total people, BBC reported.

Bosnian Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija described the floods as "catastrophic" and said about 100,000 houses and 230 schools and hospitals were destroyed and a million people have been left without drinking water.

Serbia’s state-run EPS power company said crew were doing all they could to prevent further damage to the coal-fired Nikola Tesla power plant.

Parts of the plant and a nearby mine that provides it fuel were under water. Damage to the mine alone is estimated at more than 100 million euros ($137 million).

Emergency crew have so far protected the plant by building high walls of 60,000 sandbags, but some of the barriers were destroyed when a powerful nine-foot-high surge of floodwater burst through them on Monday.

A large international aid operation is under way, with rescue helicopters from the European Union, the US and Russia evacuating people from affected areas.

Over 1,000 people were evacuated from the border town of Bijeljina, threatened by flood waters from the rivers Sava and the Drina, as well as 5,000 people from the northern town of Odzak.

Hundreds more might be trapped in the higher floors of buildings, without power or phone lines.

Rescuers are urging people to go to the balconies or rooftops of their houses with bright fabric to make themselves visible.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said his country now needs more help, particularly of food, clothing and bottled water.

The north-eastern part of Bosnia is reported to be especially severely affected, with houses, roads and rail lines submerged.

Large parts of eastern Croatia are also under water, with villages cut off and hundreds of people forced to escape the flooded zone in boats and trucks.

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