Bosnia and Serbia emergency after 'worst ever' floods

  • 16 May 2014
  • From the section Europe

States of emergency have been declared in parts of Bosnia and Serbia after the heaviest rain and worst floods since records began 120 years ago.

Overflowing rivers have burst into towns and villages, cutting off whole communities, while landslides have buried houses.

At least three people have drowned.

Army helicopters have been sent to evacuate thousands of stranded residents but reports say bad weather is hampering the rescue efforts.

Residents of Sarajevo look at the river Miljacka on 14 May 2014
River levels rose all over Bosnia, including in the capital Sarajevo
A man stands in his flooded garden in front of his house in the town of Lazarevac, south from Belgrade, on 15 May 2014.
Rising water levels have cut off communities south of the Serbian capital, Belgrade

Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said it was the "greatest flooding disaster ever".

He said his government had appealed for help from the European Union, Russia and neighbouring countries.

Rescuers in Serbia say they have so far managed to to evacuate around 4,000 people.

Serbian police officers evacuate people from their homes surrounded by flood waters near the town of Lazarevac, on 15 May 2014
Residents boarded boats to escape the flood waters near the Serbian town of Lazarevac
A Bosnian man looks out from a balcony at floodwaters surrounding his house in the village of Topcic Polje, near the central Bosnian town of Zenica, on 15 May 2014.
Some of those left stranded in Bosnia could only wait for rescue teams to arrive

In Bosnia, army helicopters have been trying to rescue residents, some of whom have been sitting on their roofs waiting for help.

But reports say strong wind and rain may be hampering the efforts.

"We had to abort the mission because of the rainfall and winds. The weather is horrible and the helicopter has its limits," said rescue pilot Fahrudin Memic.

"This is the most difficult mission I have ever participated in."

Thousands of homes are without electricity.

An aerial view of the flooded suburb of Sarajevo on 15 May 2014.
Whole suburbs of Sarajevo have been submerged
Serbian police officers evacuate people from their homes surrounded by flood waters near the town of Lazarevac, south of Belgrade, on 15 May 2014.
Many towns in Serbia could be reached only by boat

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