September 16, 2014 / 10:20 AM / 6 years ago

Balkans hit by fresh flooding; three dead

BELGRADE (Reuters) - One person died in Serbia and authorities scrambled to evacuate hundreds of others from villages threatened by rising rivers, officials said on Tuesday, in scenes recalling the devastating May flooding that killed dozens.

A view of a house in the midst of floodwater in Zazina village, central Croatia, September 15, 2014. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic

The Serbian government has declared a state of emergency in three eastern municipalities along the River Danube - Kladovo, Negotin and Majdanpek - after several days of heavy rainfall.

In neighboring Croatia, around two-thirds of 21 counties were inundated with rain over the weekend and thousands were evacuated. Two people died in Slovenia at the weekend when their vehicle was swept away. In Bosnia, hundreds of homes in the west and north were flooded over the weekend but no casualties have been reported and water levels have begun to recede.

Predrag Maric, head of Serbia’s Department for Emergency Situations, said rescuers had evacuated some 400 people from the Kladovo area of eastern Serbia.

“Yesterday and overnight we completed the rescue operation; now we’re bringing in pumps, food and water, while military engineering units are looking how to make emergency repairs on two key bridges,” Maric told Reuters. One elderly woman died in the floods.

Serbia’s state-run Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) utility said that the Djerdap 2 hydro-power plant on the Danube, jointly operated with Romania, with a total output of 571 megawatts, was threatened by rising water and debris.

The Serbian side of the plant reduced output by 30 percent to 2.06 million kWh over past 24 hours, it said. “Employees have prevented a disaster ... the machinery was on the verge being stopped,” the EPS said in a statement.

Maric, however, said “the worst has passed” and that flood waters were leveling off.

Severe floods in May killed 57 people in Serbia, washing away bridges and homes and ravaging energy infrastructure. The damage, estimated at 1.5 billion euros ($1.9 billion), helped tip the Serbian economy into contraction and has complicated government efforts to rein in a budget deficit seen at more than eight percent of national output.

The May floods killed more than 20 people in Bosnia.

Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic in Belgrade, Zoran Radosavljevic and Igor Ilic in Zagreb, Marja Novak in Ljubljana and Daria Sito-Sucic in Sarajevo; Editing by Matt Robinson, Larry King

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