18 May 2014, 16:45

Emir Kusturica provides his helicopters to evacuate Serbs from flood-hit areas

Emir Kusturica provides his helicopters to evacuate Serbs from flood-hit areas

Renowned Serb moviemaker and musician Emir Kusturica has provided his personal helicopters to help evacuate people from the flood-battered areas of Serbia, the Ruserbia portal reports. Earlier, head of Seriba's Emergency Situations Service Predrag Maric said that more than 23,350 people had been evacuated from the disaster zone. The flooding has claimed five lives, 20 people have been injured and one person is missing, he said.

The two Robinson choppers provided by Kusturica have already saved 25 people.

"The helicopters have been up in the air for 24 hours and will remain at the government's disposal until the rescue operation is over," Ruserbia quotes Kustirica as saying.

Five die, over 24,300 evacuated in flood-hit Serbia

More than 24,300 people have already been evacuated in flood-stricken Serbia so far, head of the sector for emergency situations at the Serbian Interior Ministry Predrag Maric said at a meeting of the republican emergency response headquarters on Sunday.

In his words, death of five people, including a rescuer, was officially confirmed. One more person is reported missing. The final number of fatalities is expected to be much larger, but it will be found only after the water flows away from inundated districts.

"More than 2,200 facilities were flooded and other 1,700 are under a threat of flooding" in the country, Maric said.

Serbia: floods turn into unprecedented disaster - gov't official

The floods that engulfed Serbia in recent days, have led to an unprecedented catastrophe, said the head of the country's Interior Ministry Emergency Situations Section, Predrag Maric to reporters on Saturday. "It amounted to a catastrophe, which has never happened in the entire history of Serbia," Maric said.

He stated that the rescuers will not going to publish the total number of victims, while some cities and towns still remain flooded.

Recent updates report five victims of the natural disaster and a few people missing. Serbia has evacuated 16,300 people from flood-stricken areas in Obrenovac, Baric, Sremska Mitrovica, and 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 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 declined to participate in the "Night of Museums" event.

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

The head of Serbian rescuers added that dozens of settlements in the country have been wiped off, and a number of affected areas can now be reached by helicopter only.

The lack of drinking water and food is pushing the situation towards humanitarian crisis.

Maric gave an example of Krupan, a town 120 kilometers west of Belgrade, which rescuers were able to reach only two days after the operation started.

Meanwhile, the neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is also hit by floods, officially confirmed the death of 16 people on May 17, Gojko Vasic, the head of police department in the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, told a news conference in Banja Luka on Saturday.

He expected more bodies to be found when the waters started to decrease.

So far, the death toll in Doboj in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina, nine people, has been highest. It was isolated from the rest of the world for three days. It is still without electricity and some of its neighborhoods can only be reached by boat. More than 6,000 people have been now evacuated in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's mining clearing center has warned that floods and mudslides could displace minefields and bring mines and shells hidden on riverbeds to the surface.

"We are closely watching the situation and asking people not to panic if they see a shell appear from the ground," Sasa Obradovic, the center's spokesperson, said, advising people to immediately turn to mine disposal experts for help.

More than 500,000 people, out of Bosnia and Herzegovina's population of almost 4 million, live in areas filled with mines left behind after the 1992-1995 Bosnian war and run the daily risk of being blowing up by the unexploded mines.

According to the Bosnian demining center, about 220,000 mines still lie beneath the country's soil.

A state of emergency was declared throughout Serbia due to the heavy rains that caused intense flooding. The Serbian government requested Thursday humanitarian and technical assistance from Russia and the European Commission.

On Friday, the Russian Emergencies Ministry sent humanitarian aid to Serbia.

Read also: 

At least 16 dead in massive flooding in Bosnia, Serbia

Russia's EMERCOM responds first to assist Serbian flood victims

Serbia flooding: 6,100 evacuated, 100,000 homes reported without power

Russia offers help to Serbia where 3,000 people evacuated due to worst floods since 120 years

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