Tuesday, June 3, 2014

After the floods, questions for Balkan governments

Ivana Sekularac in Reuters: Pavle Pavlovic never heard the flood siren at 5 a.m. on Friday, May 16, when the waters of the nearby Kolubara River had already entered the Serbian town of Obrenovac. The 37-year-old power plant worker woke three hours later to find his street submerged. Like thousands of others, he was trapped.

"There was no warning that our neighbourhood could be flooded," Pavlovic said days later at a Belgrade sports hall that had become his temporary home. "Luckily we had some water and a loaf of bread in the apartment." Rescue boats reached his part of town two days later.

Now Serbians and Bosnians are asking why so little was done to protect lives and defend homes when meteorologists had given several days' notice of torrential rain in an area notoriously prone to flooding. They are also asking why online content critical of the government's response to the floods has disappeared.

At least 40 people died in Obrenovac after the skies dumped several months worth of rain on the Balkans in a few days. The toll has climbed to 65 in total in Serbia and Bosnia.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development estimates the damage in Serbia at up to 2 billion euros ($2.73 billion), or seven percent of national output, and 1.3 billion euros in Bosnia, or 10 percent of output....

2014 floods in Serbia, Kostajnik near Krupanj, shot by Danijela Vasić, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons 3.0 license 

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