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Russian rescuers evacuate about 3,000 people in flood-hit Serbia

May 19, 2014, 20:09 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Russian rescuers will work in Serbia till the end of the week. Totally about 100 people work there

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© AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

MOSCOW, May 19./ITAR-TASS/. Russian rescuers have evacuated almost 3,000 people in Serbia, hit by the worst flooding for 120 years, Russia’s Deputy Emergencies Minister Vladimir Stepanov has said.

Russian rescuers arrived in Serbia on May 16.

“Two planes of the Emergency Situations Ministry carried humanitarian aid and delivered equipment and foodstuffs to settlements,” he said on Monday.

Earlier in the day, Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov said, “I ask to plan additional humanitarian aid. One more plane with food and medicines will be sent.”

Two Ka-32 helicopters from Russia have arrived in Serbia for organizing deliveries of food products to remote residential sites, Stepanov said.

Russian rescuers will work in Serbia till the end of the week. Totally about 100 people work there, he said.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, leading relief operations, urged all those unwilling to leave their homes “not to resist evacuation”.

“Do not prompt us into using force to save your lives,” Vucic said on the air at Serbia’s RTS broadcasting service. “Most important now is to save lives and then we should think about property.”

Meteorologists have predicted that heavy rain, also affecting neighbouring Bosnia and Croatia, would continue until the weekend.

Puchkov said on May 17 that the ministry had launched a large-scale humanitarian operation in Serbia hit by devastating floods.

The ministry’s aircraft delivered rescue teams equipped with everything necessary for the operation as well as a consignment of humanitarian aid, including food stuff, articles of daily necessity and medications.

“Our teams are already working side-by-side with the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Centre in the calamity area and are fulfilling tasks of life and health protection and rending assistance to the victims,” he said.

Serbian Defense Minister Bratislav Gasic has expressed “deep gratitude” to Russia for helping Serbia hit by catastrophic floods.

“Russia was the first to come to the rescue,” the minister said while meeting with Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Chepurin. “Courageous Russian rescuers, including 20 divers, were rescuing residents of Obrenovac facing deadly danger already three hours after landing in Serbia,” he said.

“Timely assistance and the presence of Lieutenant General Eduard Chizhikov (chief military expert of the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations, leading the team of Russian rescuers to Serbia) are a sign of loyalty, professionalism and sincere friendship that have once again found confirmation, this time in fight against unpredictable nature,” the defence minister said.

He said Russia had sent to Serbia 40 motor boats, 30 mobile electric power generators, 18 pumps to pump out water and blow heaters, as well as 47 tons of foodstuffs, blankets and other things.

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