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Balkan Peninsula Flooding Threatens Power Plants, May Uncover Land Mines

By Eric Leister, Meteorologist
May 21, 2014; 3:30 AM

Flooding continues to be a concern in parts of the Balkan Peninsula in eastern Europe, but a new concern has been raised: land mines.

The days of heavy rainfall from a slow-moving storm which led to historic widespread flooding may have also caused land mines hidden more than 20 years ago to appear above ground.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's demining center issued a warning to residents about the possibility of land mines and shells uncovered by mudslides and flood waters, the ITAR-TASS News Agency reported.

In this Sunday, May 18, 2014, aerial photo, flooding waters cover the village of Gunja in eastern Croatia. (AP Photo/Davor Javorovic, Pixsell)

As many as 220,000 land mines are still hidden from the Bosnian War of 1992-1995, Mine Action Center said.

Land mines could end up being carried into southeast Europe or into the turbines of a hydroelectric dam, The Associated Press reported.

The heaviest rain was centered from Bosnia and Herzegovina eastward into Serbia and southern Romania through Thursday. Rainfall averaged 100-200 mm (4-8 inches) with local amounts over 300 mm (12 inches).

The Serbian flooding has elevated concerns about the Nikola Tesla hydroelectric power plant in Sabac, the nation's largest power facility.

A second power plant in Kostolac, which produces about 20 percent of Serbia's power supply, also experienced flooding after waters broke through flood barriers.

Another flood wave is expected by Wednesday on the Sava River, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Sunday. Vucic called the flooding a catastrophe that occurs once in 1,000 years.

The heavy rainfall triggered some of the worst flooding in recent decades. Flooded rivers have closed roads, cut off power and caused hundreds of mudslides across the region.

A Bosnian man views the scene after a landslide caused by flooding in the village of Topcic polje near Zenica, 120 km north of Sarajevo, Thursday, May 15, 2014. Heavy rainfall caused the river Bosna to flood surrounding areas causing power cuts and road blockades in some suburban and rural areas. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)

At least 37 people, including a firefighter, have died in the flooding and mudslides, but authorities have warned that the death toll could rise.

Serbia has received aid from numerous countries and agencies including the Russian Federation, the European Commission, United States, Austria, countries of the region, Israel, Turkey and Belarus, Vucic said.

A land mine warning sign is posted on a tree above the town of Mostar, some 80 km (50 miles) west of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, March 31, 2002. The tens of thousands of minefields still killing and maiming people are another legacy of the Bosnian war. Recent flooding in the country have raised concerns that hidden land mines could have moved due to the flood waters and mudslides. (AP File Photo/Darko Bandic)

In Belgrade, Serbia, around 225 mm (9 inches) of rain was reported in 48 hours, more than the normal rainfall for the city during the months of April, May and June combined.

At least 20,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes in Serbia with many needing to be airlifted from their homes due to the flooding.

In Bosnia, the army has had to limit use of helicopters for evacuations due to rain reducing visibility.

RELATED:
Bosnia and Herzegovina Weather Center
Belgrade, Serbia, Detailed Forecast
Serbia Weather Center

While scattered continued across parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Serbia over the weekend, new rainfall amounts were generally less than 10 mm (0.40 of an inch).

Flooding problems continued Tuesday due to the swollen rivers of the region, despite mainly dry weather. Looking at the next several days, much of the area will remain dry with higher temperatures as a ridge of high pressure builds overhead.

Spotty showers will be possible each day but rainfall amounts will generally be light with most areas staying dry through Friday. This stretch of dry weather will aid recovery efforts across the region as flood waters finally begin to recede across the region.

The next threat for widespread rainfall will arrive this weekend as a storm system brings showers and thunderstorms to the region. Daily showers and thunderstorms are expected to continue into early next week.

Content contributed by AccuWeather.com Staff Writer Mark Leberfinger and AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Alan Reppert

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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