Balkans on alert as swollen rivers due to hit new peaks

The Balkans were on alert today as swollen rivers were due to reach new peaks after days of devastating floods and landslides that have claimed at least 49 lives.

Belgrade: The Balkans were on alert today as swollen rivers were due to reach new peaks after days of devastating floods and landslides that have claimed at least 49 lives.

More than 1.6 million people have been affected by flooding of the river Sava and its tributaries while tens of thousands of hectares of farmland have been inundated and many houses and buildings destroyed or damaged.

These are the worst floods the central European region has suffered in a century.

In Bosnia, where more than 100,000 people have been evacuated in the worst exodus since its 1992-1995 war, thousands of volunteers were struggling to reinforce dikes along the Sava river.

Bosnia declared a day of mourning for the country`s 24 dead while health authorities began disinfecting flooded areas as temperatures rise above 22 degrees Celsius in a bid to prevent diseases from spreading.

"We will face a major fight against epidemics and infectious diseases which are inevitable after such floods," said top Bosnian official Nermin Niksic.

Bosnian Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija said more than a quarter of the country`s population of 3.8 million "has been affected by the floods" after the heaviest rainfalls on record began last week.

"Right now, more than one million people have no (clean) water," he said.

In Serbia, where the Sava has already caused unprecedented havoc in the northwestern region bordering Bosnia and Croatia, thousands of volunteers were putting up fresh dykes along its banks.
Weather officials warned the Sava would rise further tomorrow, threatening higher levels of the massive Danube as the Sava flows into it in the Serbian capital Belgrade.

In Belgrade, volunteers have placed some 12 kilometres of sandbags to prevent flooding of the Serbian capital.
In Obrenovac, one of the most affected towns in Serbia, rescuers have managed to contain the waters around the Nikola Tesla power plant which produces 50 percent of the country`s electricity.

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