Hours of heavy rain caused flooding and a collapse of traffic across the Serbian capital on Tuesday night.
Police and firefighter/rescue personnel evacuated more than 30 people from buildings which were flooded and helped drivers stranded in flooded streets, the Internal Affairs Ministry (MUP) said in a press release. It added that more than 50 cars, buses and trucks had to be pulled off flooded streets.
The press release said that firefighters also battled 20 fires caused by lighting across the country, 18 of them in Belgrade. It said that more than 230 firefighter/rescue personnel were engaged with 100 vehicles and 33 water pumps at 91 locations. The worst affected areas were in Belgrade, Krusevac, Pancevo and Ivanjica. Some 160 police personnel were also engaged in evacuations and rescues, pulling about 100 people from cars and buses.
Belgrade’s recently elected Mayor Aleksandar Sapic said that the city had not seen this amount of rainfall since the country-wide floods of 2014, adding that the predicted amount of rain was less than half of what fell. He said that an average of more than 50 liters per square meter fell across the city. “Who is to blame is the least important thing now, we can’t influence God,” he said. The Mayor said that any amount of rain over 20 liters per square meter is considered a natural disaster.
The heavy rain also forced Air Serbia to cancel at least two regular flights to and from Belgrade as well as several charter flights.
The Pupin bridge connecting the Zemun municipality to neighborhoods on the other side of the Danube was closed for hours due to flooding.
The head of the Center for Local Administration (CLS) NGO Nikola Jovanovic called for the dismissals of the CEOs of the Belgrade Water and Sewer communal services company Strahinja Danilovic because of “who knows which collapse because of rain in Belgrade”.
Traffic in Belgrade has collapsed on a number of occasions over the past few summers due to heavy rains. The flooding has been blamed by experts on irresponsible construction without adequate sewers and bad maintenance of existing sewer systems.