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Serbians Battle Record Floods

April 16, 2006

BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) _ Emergency crews and volunteers struggled to keep embankments and sand barriers from giving way Sunday amid record flooding along the Danube River.

The Romanian government ordered controlled flooding of thousands of acres of farmland to keep water out of populated areas. Hundreds of residents were evacuated in southern Romania after a dam collapse threatened more than 130 homes.

An emergency tent camp for 1,200 people was being set up just outside the city of Vidin, in northwestern Bulgaria.

Authorities in Romania evacuated some 600 people from several Danube communities.

Swollen by the spring snow melt and heavy rains, the Danube _ Europe’s second longest river _ has reached record highs in Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria in the past few days, flooding towns, villages and farmland.

Overnight, the Danube reached an all-time high of 31 feet near Veliko Gradiste, 60 miles east of Belgrade. In the eastern town of Smederevo, authorities dispatched all city workers to fight flooding.

Zvonko Kostic, a waterways official in Smederevo, stressed that few Serbian towns and cities have the necessary heavy machinery required to fight floods around the clock.

``The volunteers are tired, it’s hard to keep up the tempo day after day,″ Kostic said.

In northern Vojvodina province _ known as Serbia’s breadbasket for its wheat and corn production _ the flooding and heavy rains submerged some 25,000 acres of farmland and turned another 500,000 acres into mud and slush.


Associated Press writers Alexandru Alexe in Bucharest, Romania, and Veselin Toshkov in Sofia, Bulgaria, contributed to this report.

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