Mayor of flood-devastated town rejects accusations

President of Belgrade's Obrenovac municipality Miroslav Čučković has said that "all that could have been done was done" in the flood-stricken town.

Source: B92
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He also told B92 that accusations that he failed to warn residents in time of the impending danger were "unfounded."

According to Čučković, "the surge of water was such that it was not possible to defend against it," and that "all this was unpredictable and unavoidable."

"Without a warning of expert services, and that is the RHMZ, Srbijavode, Beogradvode, and Vojvodinavode (public water management companies), and in cooperation with the Emergency Situations HQ, I could not do it. Such a warning, that something like this would happen, was not there," he said.

Čučković added that on Thursday evening everyone was engaged in strengthening embankments while "among the first who were rescuing were precisely the people from Beogradvode who did not know that the wave was coming."

"We were organized and ready to to do what we could. On Thursday evening we started all the machines in 20 minutes and started fortifying embankments. Nobody suggested that we should do otherwise than we did. When you have such an inflow of water it's impossible to defend yourself. We did all we could. I guarantee that," he said, and added it was "not true that Obrenovac was sacrificed for the sake of Belgrade."

Describing the flooding as "unprecedented waters", he reiterated that "nobody could predict this would happen," and added:

"This is a catastrophe that befell us quickly. Some of us were running toward the town to warn people once we saw we could not defend the embankments. People had to remain calm. If everyone went out and moved in their cars while the water was rising, all those people would have been trapped in their cars. I called (Belgrade) Mayor Siniša Mali and asked him to appeal on people to stay in their homes. You cannot comprehend that a street, like for instance some boulevard in New Belgrade, can fill with water in two to three hours, and up to two meters deep."

Čučković also stated that he "did not mind the authorities determining his responsibility," but added he was convinced he acted properly, and was not considering resigning, as that would be "a cowardly act."

The Obrenovac municipal president also said the rumors that his family was evacuated from the town "a month in advance" were "malicious."

Panic

Germany's Deutsche Welle reported earlier this week on its website in Serbian that a resident of Obrenovac, Aleksandra Vuković, monitored the internet media on Thursday for any updates on the flood situation, when she "noted a correspondence on Facebook in which Director of TENT (power plant) Corporate Affairs Vojin Nestorović also took part."

The article quotes Nestorović as writing late on Thursday:

"I just got back from the field. The Kolubara burst the embankment and is moving toward Stubline and toward Obrenovac. It will be at Vašarište in five hours. (...) I suggested that sirens should be turned on, but Čučko thinks that would create panic!"

"Čučko" is the nickname of the president of the municipality of Obrenovac, Miroslav Čučković.

Politics

"Serbian leaders acted wisely and efficiently"

President Tomislav Nikolić expressed his gratitude to the Chinese people, stressing that Serbia highly appreciates the assistance in overcoming the floods.

Politics Friday, May 30, 2014 10:12 Comments: 0
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