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Moscow sends relief aid to flood-stricken Serbia

Serbia has evacuated 16,300 people from the flood-stricken areas

MOSCOW, May 18 /ITAR-TASS/. Russia has sent a relief cargo to Serbia hit by heavy floods, Alexander Drobyshevsky, an official spokesperson for the Russian Emergencies Ministry, told Itar-Tass.

Floods in Serbia were caused by powerful rainfalls. Bank-bursting rivers inundated homes and agricultural lands, washed out roads and caused mudslides. Twenty-five percent of Serbian schools have been closed because of bad weather. Many buses and trains have been cancelled. Traffic has been disrupted in several cities. The Serbian government has declared a state of emergency.

Serbia has evacuated 16,300 people from the flood-stricken areas in Obrenovac, Baric, Sremska Mitrovica, from the outskirts of Pozarevac, etc. People are being accommodated in schools, dormitories and institutes. Policemen, firefighters and a huge number of volunteers are involved in the rescue operations, the Serbian Interior Ministry reports.

About 78,000 houses in 13 municipal districts remain without electricity; 2,060 facilities have been under-flooded and another 1,763 are under threat of inundation. The relief aid collected by the Serbian Interior Ministry has been distributed flooded and flood threatened areas.

Most theatres and concert halls have cancelled performances and concerts until the end of the week at least in solidarity with the flood victims. Serbian museums have refused to participate in the “Night of Museums” action.

Instead, museums and theatres in Belgrade have started raising funds for the flood victims. People are bringing bottles with drinking water, canned food, blankets, personal hygiene products, shoes and clothes.

“An IL-76 plane of the Russian Emergencies Ministry with 29 tonnes of relief cargo onboard left Moscow for Nis (southern Serbia) at 6:55 Moscow time. The cargo includes five water pumps, two portable electric power stations, ten boats, 3,200 blankets, canned fish and meat, essential hygienic products,” Drobyshevsky stressed.

A second airplane with 38 of relief cargo has left Russia's capital at 7.30 Moscow time. Russian Emergencies Ministry has dispatched two helicopters to save and evacuate people affected in a flood. “Two helicopters Kamov Ka-32 departed from the Moscow regional airfield Ramenskoye to the city of Nis [southern Serbia] on Gomel-Brest-Bratislava-Nis route. These aircrafts are to fly more than 2.3 thousand kilometres,” the ministry spokesman said. 

“Ka-32 crews which have a huge working experience in emergency situations will search for and save flood-affected people in Serbia. They will conduct a terrain reconnaissance, evacuate flood-hit people and will deliver required goods to hard-to-reach localities,” Drobyshevsky added.

Seventy-six Russian rescue workers led by Eduard Chizhov have been working near the city of Obrenovac since Friday.

“The situation is the city of Obrenovac is complicated. The water is not receding. People are trying to save themselves in their homes or on the roofs. We are working in close cooperation with Serbian military, police and rescue services,” Chizhov went on to say.

He said Russia was going to strengthen its rescue force soon.

Russian rescuers arrived in Serbia on Friday at the Serbian authorities’ request.

“Our experts are already working in the flood-stricken areas. They are protecting the life and health of people and helping the flood victims,” Russian Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov said on Friday.