Swiss increase aid to victims of Balkan floods

Flooding and landslides in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia that have destroyed homes Keystone

Switzerland has sent emergency aid material to help after torrential rain caused flooding in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Aid organisations have raised about CHF3.3 million ($3.7 million) for the victims.

This content was published on May 23, 2014 - 12:08 and agencies

The foreign ministry says a first delivery of technical equipment to purify and distribute drinking water is on its way to the disaster-stricken area.

The Humanitarian Aid Unit also decided to boost its expert teams, active in the western Balkans since last Monday.

The Swiss government has pledged CHF500,000 in emergency aid. Church charities, the Swiss Red Cross and the fundraising arm of the public Swiss Broadcasting Corporation have set aside at least CHF3.3 million.

The Swiss army also dispatched a transport helicopter, stationed with the international peacekeeping force in neighbouring Kosovo, to the region to repair a damaged dam.

Aid appeal

An estimated 2.5 million people in the western Balkans have been affected by the floods. About 150,000 people in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia were forced to leave their homes. The official death toll in Serbia alone has risen to at least 50.

The three Balkan countries have appealed for international aid to help with the recovery. Economic damage for each country is estimated at €1 billion.

The floods have destroyed bridges, damaged roads and access to railways.

The authorities say dead livestock now present the biggest health issue.

Hundreds of thousands of animals drowned in the deluge. As temperatures rise, disposing of them and decontaminating the land is crucial, experts said.

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