Bosnia and Serbia emergency after 'worst ever' floods

  • 16 May 2014
  • From the section Europe
Media captionBojana Nedeljkovic has relatives in the Bosnian town of Doboj; ''There is concern about food and water supplies being delivered to those who need it''

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.

Image caption River levels rose all over Bosnia, including in the capital Sarajevo
Image caption 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.

Image caption Residents boarded boats to escape the flood waters near the Serbian town of Lazarevac
Image caption 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.

Image caption Whole suburbs of Sarajevo have been submerged
Image caption Many towns in Serbia could be reached only by boat

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