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October 16, 2021

Epic flooding in Balkans raises fears about landmines surfacing

As if the deadly flooding inundating much of the Balkans wasn’t alarming enough, rescuers must now grapple with another concern: the risk of landmines from the Bosnian war resurfacing, CNN reports.
“A vast number of landslides have worsened the situation and relief efforts,” the Red Cross said, describing the rains as the “worst floods in more than a century.”
“There are reports that landmines buried during the conflict and not yet removed are in some instances being shifted with the landslides, adding (to) the dangers of people living in the areas as well as rescuers,” the Red Cross said.
The mammoth flooding has already killed at least two dozen people in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Massive swaths of Croatia are also submerged.
Even though the intense rainfall is subsiding Monday, the disaster is far from over. CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri said flooding in the region will last at least another week – and in some places, it could get worse.
The Serbian capital of Belgrade, for example, sits at the crux of the swollen Sava and Danube rivers. As water rushes downstream, the flood level in Belgrade is expected to rise through Thursday, Javaheri said.
In Serbia alone, more than 24,000 people have evacuated to escape water that is chest-high in some areas.
The Serbian government said at least 12 bodies have been found in the town of Obrenovac, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) from the capital of Belgrade. But one of the 12 was someone who had already died “of natural causes,” Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said.
One of the deceased was a rescuer, said Dragan Radovanovic, president of the Serbian branch of the Red Cross.
Authorities estimate that 90% of Obrenovac has been flooded.
Serbia’s not alone. In nearby Bosnia and Herzegovina, at least 13 people have died, Deputy Minister of Security Samir Agic said. The catastrophic weather has prompted authorities to declare a state of emergency in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Bosnian authorities say the flooded town of Maglaj received the average rainfall for two months in less than two days.
The epic flooding is the worst Serbia has seen since the country began keeping records 120 years ago, meteorologists said.
“Many cities and villages in western Serbia are completely under water,” the Serbian Embassy in Washington said in a statement Sunday, describing the situation as an “unimaginable catastrophe.”
Soldiers, rescue workers and volunteers rushed to stack sandbags in towns near rivers throughout Serbia.
The Sava River has already reached 6.3 meters (20.7 feet) – a historic high, the Serbian government said. The Prime Minister said workers have erected a dam 7.3 meters (24 feet) tall in the area of Sabac.

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