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Fierce storms kill 20 in Macedonia

Fierce storms kill 20 in Macedonia

SKOPJE: Fierce storms packing strong winds and torrential rains overnight killed at least 20 people in Macedonia’s capital of Skopje, the health minister said on Sunday.

The freak weather included winds blowing at more than 70 kilometres an hour and resulted in flash floods and landslides, with cars swept away by the violent torrents.

Weather officials said the average rainfall for the whole of August fell on Skopje in the space of just two hours.

“Unfortunately, 20 people have died,” said Health Minister Nikola Todorov, who is coordinating rescue operations.

Local media reported that about 100 others suffered injuries, most of them minor, while a hospital source said that an eight-year-old girl was among the dead.

An emergency was declared in Skopje and certain parts of the northwestern city of Tetovo, where heavy storms caused property damage but no casualties.

“This is a disaster, we have never experienced such a thing,” said Skopje’s Mayor Koce Trajanovski.

Rain began falling at 5:30pm on Saturday and stopped only around 9:30 on Sunday morning, with the peak of the storm in the middle of the night, around 3:30am.

Reports said the water level reached as high as 1.5 metres in some of the affected areas, which were being combed by Macedonia’s police and army for survivors and other victims.

“Everything was a mess. Televisions, the fridge, the sofa, everything was floating... it was a nightmare,” said Baze Spriovski, a 43-year-old in Singelic, who remained without electricity.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2016

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