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East Europe flooding kills three, displaces hundreds

A collapsed house in Vaideeni village is seen on July 30, 2014
A collapsed house in Vaideeni village is seen on July 30, 2014

Flooding caused by torrential rains in eastern Europe has killed three people, with a further four missing, Romanian and Bulgarian authorities said Wednesday.

In Arges in southern Romania -- one of the worst hit areas -- a 72-year-old man was swept away by floodwaters as high as two metres (six and a half feet), local authorities said.

In Bulgaria, police found the body of a 39-year-old man in the central Gabrovo region following heavy flooding on Monday in the village of Vranilovtski. The death of his 60-year-old mother was reported Tuesday.

Romania's Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea said flash floods hit 12 regions, and more than 400 people were rescued. More than 2,000 police and firefighters have been deployed in the rescue efforts, he said.

In all, some 1,100 homes and several bridges were damaged.

On Tuesday the river Luncavat burst its banks near the village of Vaideeni, damaging several houses built near the water's edge, according to an AFP photographer on the scene.

Three hundred people who had been evacuated from homes in the town of Novaci returned on Wednesday to find their courtyards and gardens still submerged.

Romania's National Water Authority said the Oltet and Olanesti rivers had "reached historically high levels that have a probability of occurring once every 100 or 200 years".

On a visit to the flood-hit region of Gorj, Prime Minister Victor Ponta said the government would quickly release funds to build flood defences and rebuild damaged property.

Bulgaria's environment ministry warned that more rain is expected on Thursday in northern Bulgaria and the capital Sofia.