Landslides, diseases and landmines threaten the Balkans after the worst flooding in over a century

Sarajevo  - Heavy rainfall ravaged parts of Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina last week, resulting in the worst flooding the countries have seen in 120 years.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, hundreds of homes were cut off or flooded after the Miljacka river, which runs through Sarajevo, broke its banks. Some 3,500 homes in the capital were left without power. It is estimated that a third of the total territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina is affected by the flooding and its consequences.

It is still unclear how many have died, but unofficial estimates have suggested that there have been around 30 fatalities in Bosnia alone.

Most perished in unexpected flash floods and sudden landslides caused by rivers bursting their banks, marooning towns and destroying homes.

Despite the floods easing in some of the places that were worst-hit in recent days, such as Bijeljina, Doboj, Maglaj and Olovo, reports from northern Bosnia said that people there were still trying to hold back flooding by building improvised defences out of sandbags.

Officials expressed continuing concern for people's health and security.

More than a million people are without water, around a quarter of the population has been endangered by this catastrophe,” Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdija said on Monday.

Some 100,000 houses have been damages across the country, he added.

 

The record-breaking heavy rainfall, the saturated soil, in combination with years of clean cutting and a lack of spatial planning have lead to a high risk of landslides throughout the country. 2.000 landslide danger zones have been identified.

The floods and landslides raised concerns that thousands of mines still buried from the 1992-95 war in Bosnia could have been shifted by the water and mud, littering the country with unmarked potentially explosive devices.

The Bosnian Mine Action Center warned that mines could have floated even as far as the Black Sea after being carried downstream through the Sava to the Danube and then out to sea.

Officials continued to express concern about people's health and security. Corpses of animals washed up as the floods receded carry the danger of causing diseases and have to be collected and destroyed.

People across the country have mobilised to help the victims in the flooded areas. Food, water, medicines and other emergency supplies are being collected and distributed to those most in need, while hundreds of students from Sarajevo have gone to Maglaj, Zavidovici and Doboj to help out.

Soldiers, police, members of civil protection crews and rafting clubs have been involved in efforts to rescue people and supply flooded areas with food, water and other necessities.

The damage so far is believed to amount to several billion euro.

 

Credit for information in this article: www.balkaninsight.com