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Balkan flooding unearths 120,000 live landmines

Flooding has put most of the Balkan region underwater, causing dozens of deaths and forcing people to leave their homes with nothing more than the their clothes.
By Aileen Graef   |   May 19, 2014 at 11:58 AM  |  Updated May 19, 2014 at 12:23 PM   |   Comments

BELGRADE, Serbia, May 19 (UPI) -- The worst floods in the Balkans in over 100 years have left at least 47 dead and 500,000 displaced while unearthing 120,000 landmines in the region.

Bosnia and Herzegovina have reported 30 dead so far and Serbia has reported 17 people killed as of Monday morning. Serbia is still working to recover and identify bodies. Bosnia has reported that more than 500,000 people have been displaced from their homes due to the flooding.

The massive amounts of water have triggered over 3,000 landslides, unearthing 120,000 live landmines left buried in the ground from the regional wars in the 1990s. Authorities have flagged the locations where the explosives are present, but they continue to worry that the mines will enter the rivers and travel toward southern Europe through the waterways. After finding several explosives in the water near an area where they has been seen before, officials continue to fear that they could damage a dam while floating downstream.

In addition to the scramble to get people to safety, rescue workers are rushing to protect key power stations in the area.

"The army, police, volunteers and Kostolac employees are using all mechanisation and are piling up sandbags to slow the river flow and prevent it from entering the power generation system," said Alma Muslibegovic, a spokesperson for Serbia's EPS power firm.

Serbian and Bosnian officials said that the flooding will also deal a major blow to the countries' economies as they both heavily rely on agriculture.

Follow @AileenGraef and @UPI on Twitter.
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