Russian rescuers arrive in flood-stricken Serbia
The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations has responded to an appeal for assistance made by the Serbian government and sent a team of rescuers to Serbia.Source: B92, Tanjug
An Ilyushin II-76 airplane landed in Niš, in the south of the country, on Friday morning, bringing more than 70 of Russia's best-trained rescuers. They arrived with gear that includes diving and special equipment, and boats.
A second plane is expected to land before noon, bringing food that will be distributed in areas hit by severe flooding.
The Russian ministry also said that specialists from the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Ceneter in Niš are directly engaged in helping counter the consequences of the natural disaster, while electricity generators and water pumps have already been deployed.
The Russian team has everything needed for search and rescue operations in the flooded areas and is ready to operate autonomously for 15 days, it has been announced.
The first Russian plane was expected to land during the night. Unconfirmed reports from Niš said there were "indications" that the arrival of the rescuers was delayed by Romania - which earlier closed its air space to Russian aircraft over disagreements with Moscow's policy toward Ukraine.
The Serbian government on Thursday declared a state of emergency in the entire territory of the country, and asked for assistance from the Russian Federation, the EU, and Slovenia. Slovenia's Ambassador Franc But announced last night that his country would on Friday send a Civil Defense unit to Serbia.
19 people, four vehicles, and two water pumps will be deployed to help fight the consequences of the flooding, the diplomat said.
More than 6,000 people have been evacuated from their homes so far in Serbia, with authorities saying late last night that two persons were confirmed dead, and two listed as missing, a firefighter among them.
Forecasters said that rain would continue on Friday but with less intensity than was the case during the past two days. The weather will remain unstable until Wednesday.