Varna: Flash floods in Bulgaria have killed at least 11 people including two children, with others missing after torrential rains lashed the east of the country, authorities said Friday.
The worst hit was the Asparuhovo neighbourhood of the Black Sea city of Varna, where between nine and 11 people including the children perished, Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev said.
Two more victims were found in the nearby northeastern town of Dobrich, where 150 people were evacuated.
Dozens of smashed and upturned cars and uprooted trees littered the narrow mud-splattered streets of Asparuhovo on Friday morning, making the area almost impassable, an AFP photographer said.
The normally picturesque hillside area was submerged after torrential rain pounded the region on Thursday evening, clogging garbage-filled drainage canals and turning the steep streets into raging torrents.
"Thank God I managed to run away, otherwise I would have drowned," said resident Branimir, 38. "Everyone panicked and started to run."
"Neither I nor my grandfather have seen anything like this before. Everyone is shaking for fear that a new shock wave might come."
The reported death toll varied but several people were missing and authorities fear more bodies might be found by rescuers workers.
Several rickety houses were totally destroyed by the water with authorities unable to say whether their owners had survived.
Electricity in the area was cut off on Thursday and the authorities said it would not be restored for the time being due to safety concerns.
Navy divers prepared to search a canal linking Lake Varna to the Black Sea, where all the floodwater drained away, dragging with it cars, furniture, garbage and uprooted trees.
The army joined in efforts to help evacuate people and drain the flooded Varna military medical hospital.
Strong winds meanwhile prompted authorities to shut the port of Varna, Bulgaria`s largest.Shocked Asparuhovo residents, home to some 25,000 people, likened the disaster to the set of a horror movie.
"I have never seen anything like this before, nor heard about a disaster like that from my father," an elderly man told AFP, shaking his white-haired head in disbelief.
"We had to climb on the garage roof to save ourselves," a woman in her 50s said.
People put the blame on nature, but also human negligence in the European Union`s poorest country.
Varna municipal council member Kostadin Kostadinov told public BNR radio that massive logging of the beech forests overlooking the neighbourhood, illegal construction and poor maintenance of drains contributed to the tragedy.
"All this was happening before our eyes. The Roma horse-drawn carriages loaded with cut timber from the woods passed right in front of the police station. Illegal houses sprung up like mushrooms. This is a small neighbourhood, nothing can go unnoticed," Kostadinov said.
There was no immediate information on the total damage bill as rescue efforts were hindered by continuing rainfall.
Heavy rains were forecast to continue across Bulgaria throughout Friday, which declared a day of mourning in Varna. Bulgaria was to observe a nationwide day of mourning on Monday.