Severe Flooding in the Balkans

Unprecedented damage after record rainfall

May 19, 2014
Outside Magazine

More than 40 people have died so far as a consequence of severe flooding in the Balkans. The BBC reports that three months' worth of rain have fallen in the past few days, causing thousands of landslides and catastrophic damage in Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia. The flooding is the worst since rainfall measurements began to be recorded 120 years ago. 

The situation is particularly grave in areas along the Sava River, the Danube tributary that runs through Serbia and along the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition to forcing tens of thousands to evacuate their homes, flooding in this area has threatened structures like the Nikola Tesla Power Plant in Obrenovac, Serbia, which is the largest in the country.

Serbia's prime minister, Aleksandar Vucic, said, "These are the kind of waters not seen in 1,000 years, let alone 100."

Zeljka Cvijanovic, prime minister of Republika Srpska (aka the autonomous Bosnian Serb Republic), was quoted as saying, "The damage is such that we cannot recall even after the 1992–1995 war."

Her reference to the Bosnian War is ominously relevant in more ways than one: There are increasing fears that some of the thousands of unexploded land mines from the conflict may have been dislodged in the landslides. Today also marks the start of the defense case of Ratko Mladic at the wars crimes tribunal in the Hague. The Bosnian Serb former army chief, ignominiously known as the Bosnian Butcher, faces 11 charges, ranging from hostage-taking to genocide, for his involvement in the war.

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