Torrential Rains in Skopje Kill 21, Six Missing

Cheryl Sanders
August 13, 2016

SKOPJE, Macedonia-Torrential rain and floods in the Macedonian capital have left at least 15 people dead, with six missing and 22 others sent to the hospital, police said Sunday.

The nearby villages of Stajkovci, Aracinovo and Smiljkovci were also badly affected by thunderstorms and strong winds on Saturday night.

Municipal authorities urged people to avoid going out in the streets, and especially to heep out of their vehicles, with several roads in the capital still flooded and traffic interrupted on the city's ring road.

Mayor Koce Trajanovski described the damage from the storms as "the worst Skopje has ever seen".

"This is a catastrophe of unprecedented proportion", Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Todorov said on Sunday, adding that the death toll may rise further.

The rain had stopped by Sunday morning and water levels receded and though there was more rain on Sunday evening - there were no reports of further flash flooding.

Villages on the northern outskirts of the capital were particularly badly affected. "Our teams are still searching for other possible victims", police spokeswoman Liza Bendevska told the AFP news agency.

Health authorities have advised residents and tourists in the worst hit areas to use only bottled water or water from public authority cisterns for drinking and cooking. The bridge connecting one island to the coast was closed and the highway linking the capital Zagreb to the southern coast was at times shut to lorries and large buses because of the winds.

Three-and-a-half inches (93mm) of rain fell in Skopje in the storm - more than the average for the whole of August.

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