Rain and severe floods kill at least 20 in Romania

image captionVillagers protect their homes against flooding in north-eastern Romania

At least 20 people have been killed in a week of torrential rains and flooding in Romania.

Around 7,000 people have been evacuated so far and large areas of arable land are under water, officials said.

The Romanian government has asked for aid from the European Union to help repair the damage to roads and farmland.

Interior Minister Vasile Blaga said that the situation was especially bad in the north-east of the country.

Thousand of riot police continue to enforce flood defences and help to evacuate residents, Mr Blaga told parliament.

He warned that the damage caused by the floods would take a heavy toll on the Romanian economy, which is struggling to emerge from a recession.

The economy of one of Europe's poorest countries contracted by more than seven percent last year, and the government now predicts a drop of 1% to 2% in GDP this year.