Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Flash floods in Bosnia cause immediate evacuation, power outage

SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina (AP) – Heavy rain caused severe flash flooding in Bosnia, triggering an evacuation, causing power outages in much of the capital, closure of a key facility for oxygen used for COVID-19 patients, and flooding of roads in parts of the Balkan country on Friday.

Bosnia’s only certified medicinal oxygen refueling plant, part of the German Messer Group, was among jobs and homes in the Sarajevo suburbs that had to be evacuated after a rapid flood hit.

Avdo Delic, CEO of Messer Bosnia, said the plant was completely flooded and expressed concern that hospitals across the country treating COVID-19 patients could run out of medical oxygen cylinders if the company’s activities are not quick. restored in alternative locations.

“We couldn’t save the equipment, we had to save lives,” Delic said.

“The water came as fast as a tsunami, and it’s good that Civil Protection came here with lifeboats,” he added.

Bosnia has seen an increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 amid the recent outbreak of the virus. The country of 3.5 million has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Europe – less than 20%. About 1,100 new infections and 32 deaths were reported on Friday.

Bosnia has so far confirmed more than 250,000 infections and over 11,000 deaths, one of the highest per capita death rates in Europe.

Hundreds of houses in the suburbs of Sarajevo, along the rivers Bosnia, Tilava and Zeleznica, as well as in the southwestern part of the country, around the town of Konić, had to be evacuated due to relentless torrential rains.

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“Everything is underwater, I just spoke to a friend who told me that he could not leave his house because the water reached the first floor,” Salih Ramadani said as he walked out of his flooded home in the Sarajevo suburb of Otes.

“The situation is bad and we do not expect it to improve soon,” said Danis Memagic, the firefighter coordinating the evacuation in the area.

Most of Sarajevo was left without electricity for several hours due to flooding of one of the main substations on the outskirts of the city. Electricity company Elektinentjenos said heavy rain had hampered attempts to redirect electricity. By evening, electricity returned to most of the city.

In footage of a flood in Voykovichi, near Sarajevo, it is clear that a local gas station and motel are dangerously close to the swelling, swollen and muddy Zelyava River, which has corroded its banks.

Rising rivers flooded many local roads around Bosnia, forcing some schools to cancel classes.

The rain started late Thursday night and is projected to continue until Sunday, raising fears of a repeat of the record flooding that affected about a third of the population in 2014.

This was followed by days of unseasonably warm weather with temperatures in excess of 20 degrees Celsius.


Eldar Emrik contributed to this story.


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