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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Record Flooding of Danube River Submerges the Balkans

BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro -- Emergency crews and volunteers struggled to keep embankments and sand barriers from giving way Sunday amid record flooding along the Danube and its tributaries in northern Serbia and elsewhere in the Balkans.

In Romania, the government ordered controlled flooding of thousands of hectares of farmland to stave off the threat to communities along the Danube. Hundreds of residents were evacuated in southern Romania after a dam collapsed and the river threatened over 130 houses in the village of Rast.

In northwestern Bulgaria, the Danube flooded most of the industrial zone in the city of Vidin, with water levels soaring to 966 centimeters this weekend. An emergency camp for 1,200 people was being set up just outside the city.

Some 40 percent of the nearby Bulgarian port city of Nikopol was under water, threatening to flood the pumping station and cut off fresh water supplies. Hundreds of people had left the city.

Although the water in Serbia was only rising slightly, lower-lying streets were submerged in Belgrade. Parts of the city's ancient fortress were also flooded.

Belgrade Mayor Nenad Bogdanovic pledged that some 100 of the capital's buildings damaged by the floods would be repaired and that dozens of impoverished Gypsies evacuated to a nearby sports center would be taken care of.

"Keeping embankments stable is the priority now," Bogdanovic told reporters after touring flooded areas Saturday.

Swollen by the spring snow melt and heavy rains, the Danube, Europe's second-longest river, reached record highs in Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria in the past few days.