Bulgaria monitors rising Danube, shores up river defences, after Serbia floods

Water levels in the stretch of the Danube River that forms the border between Bulgaria and Romania have risen sharply in the past day, with flood defences being shored up after the disastrous flooding that hit Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

However, Bulgarian authorities said on May 18 that there was “no immediate danger” of flooding in the Bulgarian section of the Danube.

On May 18, operations at the port of Lom were partly suspended and the mayor announced the third, highest, level of state of defence of the population against flooding.

Some agricultural land in the region was flooded, prompting complaints from residents that nothing had been done to keep flood defences in good conditions since the floods four years ago.

A dyke near the village of Kudelin was in an inadequate state to protect the village because institutions shifted responsibillity for repairing it, village mayor Krassimir Assenov told Bulgarian National Television.

Bulgaria’s Hydro-Meteorological Service, reporting heightened levels of the Danube on May 18, said that waters from tributaries in Hungary and Serbia were expected to reach the area in about three days.

Six islands in the Vidin area of the Danube were flooded.

Firefighters and civil defence were carrying out continuous monitoring of critical risk areas near Vidin, Lom and Nikopol.

However, the central operational headquarters of Bulgaria’s fire safety and civil protection directorate-general said that there was no immediate danger of flooding in the Bulgarian section of the Danube.

Separate reports said that the level of the Danube at Lom had risen 54cm in the past day to reach 824cm. The lower part of the harbour were underwater.

A temporary dyke had been built to protect railway lines. Concrete blocks had been placed to fortify the west pier.

Should the level of the river pass nine metres, there could be problems at the drinking water pumping station at the village of Dobri Dol.

Should the level of the Danube reach 850cm, there would be road closures in parts of the Vidin area, Bulgarian National Radio said.

In Serbia, soldiers, police and volunteers battled to protect power plants from rising flood waters on May 18 as the death toll from the Balkan region’s worst rainfall in more than a century rose to at least 37, the Voice of America reported.

Twelve bodies were recovered from the worst-hit Serbian town of Obrenovac, 30 kilometers southwest of the capital, Belgrade.

“The situation is catastrophic,” Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said, and warned that the death toll would likely rise.

About 300 landslides, triggered by unprecedented rains in Bosnia, have left thousands of people homeless, officials said Sunday, while thousands more have fled their homes in neighbouring Croatia and Serbia, VOA said.

(Archive photo of the Danube River at Vidin, Bulgaria: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)




The Sofia Globe staff

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