Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Europe hit by more harsh weather

A local villager evacuates a pig from a household in Banja Koviljaca, Serbia (AP)
Bosnian people walk along a flooded street in the Bosnian village of Amajlije after the river Drina broke its banks (AP)

Three European nations struggled with harsh weather as floods forced the evacuation of thousands of people in Bosnia and Albania and snow caused part of the roof at a nuclear power plant in France to collapse.

For the past four days, the Balkans have coped with the worst floods in a century, and western Europe has dealt with sub-freezing temperatures and heavy snowfalls that have led to fatalities and closed airports, roads and schools.

In Bosnia, the army, police, volunteers and divers helped evacuate about 2,000 people from their homes in the north-eastern town of Bijeljina, which was flooded overnight. Rescuers also used boats to deliver food and drinking water to suburbs that had lost electricity, drinking water and phone lines.

Several rivers in the Balkans have burst their banks because of the heavy rainfall.

The overflowing Drina River, which separates Bosnia from Serbia and Montenegro, has forced authorities in all three countries to evacuate thousands of people. On Saturday Montenegro sent a helicopter to evacuate a four-member family from their house on the Bosnian side that had been flooded for four days, said the SRNA news agency.

In Albania, south of Bosnia, authorities asked Nato member countries for assistance in rescuing people from flooded areas and delivering food and other supplies to them.

Kosovo sent an army unit specialising in emergencies to help thousands of Albanian police officers and soldiers who have evacuated more than 11,000 people from flooded areas of the Shkodra district, 75 miles north of Tirana, Albania's capital.

Albania's government also declared the state of emergency in the Lezha and Durres districts, south of Shkodra and west of Tirana.

In France, where a cold snap hit a northern swathe of the country, a portion of a roof at a nuclear power plant in the town of Flamanville near the Channel collapsed under the weight of snowfall, Electricite de France said. The electric utility said nuclear waste stockpiles were not under threat and there was no environmental impact caused.

Meanwhile, France's civil aviation authority asked airlines to scale back one in five flights from Paris' two main airports - Charles de Gaulle and Orly - for most of the day Saturday.

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