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'This is a Catastrophe': Epic Floods Threaten Balkans

Unprecedented rains swell rivers, threaten power plants and resurgence of landmines

Residents of Obrenovac, Serbia flee the catastrophic flooding. (Photo: stefanogiantin/cc/flickr)

Tens of thousands are fleeing their homes in the Balkans amidst epic floods triggered by unprecedented rainfall that have already claimed the lives of dozens.

Three months worth of rain fell on the region in just three days.

"This is a catastrophe unseen in Serbia," Predrag Maric, the head of the the Serbian Interior Ministry’s emergencies unit, said at a news conference.

On Sunday water levels in Serbia's River Sava "are expected to peak," BBC News reports, "threatening the country's biggest power plant." Reuters reports that

Serbia's EPS power utility said a fresh flood wave from the Sava and Mlava rivers threatened the Nikola Tesla and Kostolac power plants. Capacity has already been cut back at the Nikola Tesla plant in Obrenovac, Serbia's largest.

The Mlava overwhelmed sandbag flood defenses on Sunday morning near Kostolac, threatening to flood coal mines and the plant itself.

"These are the kind of waters not seen in 1,000 years, let alone 100," Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said during a televised cabinet session.


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At least 12 people have been reported dead from the flooding in Serbia.

Like Serbia, neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina has declared a sate of emergency due to the flooding, and at least 19 people were reported killed as of Saturday.

The flooding in Bosnia has unleashed another danger: the thousands of landmines that litter the country from the 1992–1995 war.

The flooding has swept away warning signs indicating where there was landmine danger, and may have unburied some landmines.

The Associated Press reports that the landmines could pose an "international problem" because they could be carried away by floodwaters to rivers and potentially travel "through half of southeast Europe or get stuck in the turbines of a hydroelectric dam."

Croatia has reported one death and two missing so far as a result of the epic flooding in the region as well.

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