Serbia death toll rises to 17 in worst floods in 1,000 years

Photo: Serbia death toll rises to 17 in worst floods in 1,000 years / Other News

The death toll in Serbia from the worst flooding seen in 1,000 years has risen to 17 as the capital Belgrade braces itself for a "flood wave", Bloomberg reported.

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said today 12 bodies were discovered in the town of Obrenovac, 25 kilometers southwest of the capital, amid concern more will be found, the state-owned Tanjug newswire reported. The previous official death toll was five.

Thousands of volunteers were piling up sandbags along the banks of the Sava river in Belgrade as the met office warned water levels could exceed safe depth by as much as 6 meters on May 21. President Tomislav Nikolic said the damage could reach "billions of euros."

"We have a chance to save ourselves," Vucic told a meeting of his cabinet in Belgrade today. "We have managed to avoid the biggest catastrophe" after "a rainfall that happens once in a thousand years."

Serbia declared a state of emergency on May 15, after record rainfall triggered floods that killed at least five people in one day. More than 24,000 have been evacuated and some 7,000 homes left without electricity, Predrag Maric, the head of the Serbian Interior Ministry's emergencies unit, said.

Russia, the European Union, the U.S., Turkey and Belarus have sent helicopters, planes, rescue units and life-saving equipment. Donors have been asked to provide canned and baby food, medicines and disinfectants, Vucic said. The government has also mobilized psychologists to assist people at shelters.

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