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Two die, hundreds are evacuated in Bulgaria floods

A member of the civil guard helps an evacuated man to leave a boat in the town of Mizia, Bulgaria on August 3, 2014
A member of the civil guard helps an evacuated man to leave a boat in the town of Mizia, Bulgaria on August 3, 2014

Two people drowned and 900 were evacuated from their homes as flooding caused by torrential rains hit northwestern Bulgaria, the latest in a string of such disasters since June, the interior ministry said on Sunday.

Over 800 residents of the town of Mizia were evacuated overnight and during the day on Sunday after the swollen river Skut submerged large parts of the town under up to three metres (10 feet) of water, the interior ministry said.

The bodies of a 60-year-old man and an 80-year-old woman were recovered from their inundated houses as boats and two army helicopters evacuated residents from the area, the ministry said.

Several dozen houses collapsed under the strong flood wave in the small town, home to 3,200 people. Electricity was cut for safety reasons.

People look at a resque boat evacuating people in a flooded street in the town of Mizia, Bulgaria on August 3, 2014
People look at a resque boat evacuating people in a flooded street in the town of Mizia, Bulgaria on August 3, 2014

Aerial pictures released by the army showed vast parts of Mizia and its adjacent farmland covered in muddy green waters with rooftops sticking out and no sight of roads or bridges.

Another 100 people were also evacuated in the nearby village of Krushovitsa and houses, gardens and roads in several other villages in the region were also submerged.

"Dozens of houses have collapsed, hundreds are under water. The situation is critical," the country's acting interior minister, Tsvetlin Yovchev, said.

Rescue operations were ongoing with about 300 emergency workers, firefighters, police officers and soldiers dispatched to the area.

A man climbs on a fence in a flooded street in the town of Mizia, Bulgaria on August 3, 2014
A man climbs on a fence in a flooded street in the town of Mizia, Bulgaria on August 3, 2014

The Bulgarian Red Cross sent blankets, bedding and bread to the evacuated people and appealed for donations of bottled water.

Heavy rains have lashed northwestern Bulgaria on and off in the past weeks, prompting repeated flood alerts by the weather and rescue services.

Fourteen people, including two children, had also perished when floods sparked by heavy rainfall swept through their poor neighbourhood in the Black Sea city of Varna in June.

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