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Bosnia hit by fresh flooding, two people missing

Source: Reuters - Fri, 8 Aug 2014 14:02 GMT
Author: Reuters
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Besim Tutnjic stands near a destroyed house during floods in the village of Cole near Zeljezno Polje, August 7, 2014. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
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* One killed, two missing after flooding this week

* Angry villagers protest, demand government help

* Political rivalries delay reconstruction

By Daria Sito-Sucic

SARAJEVO, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Police in Bosnia searched on Friday for two people swept away during the second bout of torrential rainfall since May, when the Balkans were hit by the worst floods in more than a century.

The body of a woman was recovered on Thursday from the muddy bank of a river in northwestern Bosnia, and two people were listed as missing, police said.

Bosnia suffered almost 2 billion euros worth of damage to homes, infrastructure and industry in May, when heavy rains caused rivers to burst their banks, sweep away roads and bridges and set off hundreds of landslides. More than 20 people died in Bosnia and more than 60 in Serbia.

There were similar scenes, on a lesser scale, this week in Bosnia and parts of Serbia, where a man drowned in his cellar on Tuesday.

Residents of Zeljezno Polje in central Bosnia, who lost their homes in May, saw their village cut off again this week. Gathering in the nearby town of Zepce, they called on local authorities to give them land to build new houses, clean the river bed and repair roads and power supplies before winter.

"I have lived in a tent in the woods since May," villager Besim Tutnjic told Reuters by telephone from Zepce. "The tent is now gone; we've received no help from the authorities and we don't know what to do or where to go."

Tutnjic and 16 other members of his extended family were among hundreds of angry villagers who blocked the main road linking the towns of Zenica and Zepce on Thursday.

Last month, international donors pledged more than 1.8 billion euros ($2.4 billion) to aid the recovery and rebuilding in Bosnia and Serbia.

A lack of coordination between Bosnia's two autonomous regions, created as a weak and dysfunctional union after the country's 1992-95 war, means none of the money allocated to Bosnia has yet been put to use. Donors say they will fund projects, which have still to be agreed on by the rival entities.

"The money has been promised; where is the money?" said Tutnjic, who said he spent the night in a chair in front of the Zepce municipal building. "The government has made promises and done nothing, while we live in fear of rain each day."

The government of the mainly Bosniak and Croat Federation, which together with the Serb Republic makes up Bosnia, declared a state of emergency on Thursday and allocated urgent funding for the worst hit areas.

($1 = 0.7467 Euros) (Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Matt Robinson, Larry King)

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