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Balkan Countries Beset by Heavy Flooding

May 12, 2005

( Research Service)- Romania is in the midst of the worst flooding in a century, according to the Red Cross, which has performed massive relief work while calling for more donor aid for heavily affected regions. Related flooding has also caused widespread damage in neighboring Serbia, while an unrelated deluge caused 650 people to be evacuated from their homes in Macedonia on Sunday.

In a press release published on Wednesday, the international aid organization summarized the list of damage caused by two weeks of heavy rain and the flooding in Romania of the Bega, Timis and Barzava rivers, where water levels surged to 11 meters higher than normal.Four entire villages (Ionel, Otelec, Foeni and Cruceni) were submerged completely.

According to the report, “…4,000 houses have been destroyed and 3,500 people evacuated. About 52,000 hectares of farming land is flooded.” The flood levels are expected to remain for at least a month “…due to the soil composition and the fact that there is no natural drainage possibility with the flooded land lying in a depression.” The BBC, which shows a photo of rescuers boating through the ruins of houses, reported that 2 elderly people died and that rotting animal carcasses and mosquitoes are exacerbating the health risks.

Further, near the city of Targoviste in south-central Romania, flash flooding of the Ialomita River over 20 localities caused widespread damage to homes and property as well as one death.

Serbia has also suffered from the effects of recent heavy rainfall as well. Serbian television footage of submerged homes in the northern province of Vojvodina showed the effects of the flooding, which has flooded 1,900 ha of land in the municipality of Secanj, and slightly less in the nearby municipalities of Zitiste and Plandiste making 600 people homeless, according to the UN. The area, close to the Romanian border, is similarly flat and susceptible to flood damage.

At this week’s Balkan leadership summit in Bucharest, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and Romanian President Traian Basescu pledged that the two neighbors would work together to recover from the floods. The Serbian government is proposing property tax exclusions for those affected by the flooding in the municipalities of Secanj, Plandiste, and Zitiste.

Finally, in Macedonia unrelated flooding in the northeastern city of Kumanovo made 650 impoverished Roma homeless when the rising waters of the Kumanovo River invaded the shanty homes in which they live. Lacking good protective barriers and not being well-channeled, this debris-littered river bursts its banks almost annually- invariably ruining the improvised Roma settlement located directly above it. According to A1 TV, which reported on Sunday’s evacuation, “…since the year 2003, this is the third flooding of the Kumanovo River. In the previous two times, 50 percent of the houses in [the neighborhoods of] Sredorek and Bavci were flooded.”


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