Torrential rain and floods hit Bosnia; Balkan neighbours on alert

TESLIC, Bosnia (Reuters) - Torrential rain and floods in some parts of Bosnia forced authorities to declare an emergency on Tuesday, while neighbouring countries were on alert and taking protective measures as downpours continued.

Police were searching for a six-year boy who feared drowned after he fell into a swollen creek near the central town of Zepce. His mother, who tried and failed to rescue him, was hospitalised.

Hundreds of households in central and northwestern Bosnia were flooded when smaller rivers burst their banks after the rains started on Sunday. Local officials in the northern town of Kotor Varos said around 15 people had been evacuated from their homes.

Landslides triggered by the rainfall blocked regional roads, cutting off electricity and causing drinking water shortages in some areas. The Red Cross was providing hygiene packages to the affected population.

But civil defence officials said the situation was less severe than in 2014, when the heaviest rains and floods in 120 years hit Bosnia and Serbia, killing dozens and leaving several towns and villages isolated.

The weather was expected to stabilise in Bosnia in the next few days and the level of major rivers to decrease.

In Croatia, authorities were taking emergency measures at the Bosnian border, where the level of the River Una has been rising, and in the country’s centre, where eight tourists were rescued by firefighters from the flooded town of Slunj.

Serbia was also on alert, taking precautionary measures against flooding from rains forecast to continue until Friday, the authorities said.

Reporting Daria Sito-Sucic in Sarajevo, Igor Ilic in Zagreb and Ivana Sekularac in Belgrade, writing by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Catherine Evans