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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moldova Mourns Casualties of Flood

CHISINAU, Moldova -- The former Soviet republic of Moldova appealed for international aid Monday after severe floods ripped through the center of the country, killing at least 50 people and causing $80 million worth of damage.

"First of all we need bread, wheat, flour, medicines, clothes and construction materials," President Mircea Snegur said in an appeal to the United Nations, the European Union and other international bodies.

The appeal, broadcast on national radio, said the floods had destroyed over 1,700 private houses and at least 200 schools, hospitals and industrial plants.

According to Moldovan government figures Monday, 35,000 hectares of crops were also ruined, 70,000 hens drowned, and 120 cattle and 1,000 pigs died.

Also destroyed or badly damaged were 49 bridges, 18 kilometers of roads, 17 kilometers of power lines and 12 kilometers of telephone lines, Deputy Prime Minister Valeriu Bulgari said.

Russia, Belarus and Ukraine promised assistance, and Itar-Tass said the Russian Embassy staff in the capital Chisinau had all donated one day's earnings to help in the crisis.

Celebrations for the third anniversary of Moldova's independence from the Soviet Union were eclipsed by the flooding.

Moldova marked a day of mourning Sunday for the people who died in the flooding, Interior Ministry officials said. Flags flew at half-mast and black ribbons fluttered from public buildings. Churches throughout the nation of 4.3 million held special masses.

Authorities in Chisinau cut off water supplies to residents, saying they were afraid the water could be contaminated by the floods. Drinking water was distributed by tanker.

The worst-hit areas along the River Prut, forming the border with Romania, were reachable only by helicopter after the river rose 1.5 meters and inundated many villages.

The disaster came on the heels of a drought and a tornado earlier this month. The tornado ripped through several northern regions Aug. 11, killing three people and injuring 80 more. It also tore the roofs off more than 10,000 private houses and destroyed thousands of hectares of agricultural land. It caused around $140 million worth of damage.

(Reuters, AP)