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Bosnia and Serbia declare day of mourning over floods

20 May 2014 18:53 (Last updated 20 May 2014 18:54)

Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia’s governments have declared a day of national mourning after Balkan floods killed at least 43 people

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina 

Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina have declared Tuesday as a national day of mourning after the Balkan flood disaster which claimed at least 43 lives across Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia in recent days.

Flags will fly at half-mast; cultural and entertainment events will not be broadcast or held in public places. 

Approximately 1.5 million people have been affected by the floods.

The death toll in Bosnia rose to 24 people on Tuesday, while two people are reported dead in Croatia.

Thousands of people still lack electricity and drinking water across the region. Government agencies are working to try and prevent a possible spread of infectious diseases.

At least 17 people reportedly died in neighboring Serbia, where Tuesday marks the first day of the three-day national mourning, and nearly 300,000 others have been cut off from power and water supplies.

Serbia has begun evacuating the town of Obrenovac near Belgrade following an alarming rise in water levels on the River Sava which flows through the city.

The surge in the Sava came as the downpour abated but fears that another bout of major flooding might engulf the capital were rekindled amid weather warnings.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic visited Obrenovac on Saturday while Belgrade Mayor Sinisa Mali said the city was prepared for more floodwaters.

All foreign aid currently flowing into Serbia is reportedly being channeled to the city of Sabac, which nestles alongside the Sava and where more than 800 people have been evacuated over the last four days.

Aid pours in

The region has recorded the heaviest rainfall in 120 years in mid-May, according to meteorologists.

Aid has poured in from around the world, with several Turkish agencies and organizations shipping truckloads of relief items.

They include Turkish Red Crescent, the Prime Ministry's emergency agency, Istanbul municipality and the state-backed religious Diyanet Foundation.

Bosnia's honorary consul in the Turkish province of Bursa, Ercan Uslu told AA Tuesday that the consulate was planning to contribute to the flow of aid from Turkey and was in talks with Turkish agencies.

The U.N. emergency relief coordinator on Monday urged the international community to provide assistance. Valerie Amos said help is on the way to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia where tens of thousands of people have been evacuated.

“In all three countries, the government is leading the flood response, distributing food and other relief supplies, and providing emergency shelter,” said Amos in statement issued on Monday.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has allocated $50,000 to kick start the relief effort, through the U.N. resident coordinator's office in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The office has also dispatched a team of U.N. disaster assessment experts to the region. In addition, the U.N. said expert teams from the U.N. World Food Program, the U.N. Refugee Agency, the U.N. Children's Fund, the U.N. Development Program and the International Organization for Migration are already engaged with the Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian authorities to provide food, water and sanitation.