Floods claim more lives in eastern Balkans

Bucharest/Sofia (dpa) - At least eight people were killed in floods in Romania over the past three days and two children are feared drowned in the neighbouring Bulgaria, local media reported Thursday.

According to official figures from Bucharest, five people died and five were missing already on Wednesday. Three more men drowned Wednesday in a village that was totally submerged by the swollen river Siret, the Mediafax news agency said.

Siret, a tributary of Danube, rose above its banks following days of torrential rain, the worst the country has seen in more than 50 years. The volume of the river has risen by a factor larger than 20 -from 200 to 4,380 cubic metres of water per second.

Overall, three-quarters of Romanian territory, and 31 out of the 41 administrative units - was affected by recent floods, with the area around Siret hit catastrophically.

Another swell was expected in the night between Wednesday and Thursday, so most of the people were brought to safety. Rescue was however hampered by poor weather and visibility.

Preparations were underway to blow a dike and divert some of the waterflow to unpopulated areas.

To the south, in Bulgaria, two children were feared drowned in the swollen Suhata river flowing through the capital Sofia. Several people had already been killed this month.

A freight train was derailed overnight following a landslide caused by the torrential rain, coming on top of kilometres of roads and railroad already damaged, as well as thousands of homes that have been hit by floods since early July.

Around two million people in Bulgaria, more than quarter of the population, were affected by floods over the past two months. A state disasters commission was to make a new damage assesment Thursday, following an earlier figure of 92 million dollars.

Bulgaria, slated to join E.U. along with Romania in 2007, has also appealed to Brussels for financial aid. dpa kl bb ds


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