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Floods kill three in 'worst natural catastrophe' to hit Serbia
by Staff Writers
Belgrade (AFP) May 15, 2014

Serbian police officers evacuate people from their homes surrounded by flood waters near the town of Lazarevac, 45 kilometers south of Belgrade, on May 15, 2014. Three people have drowned in Serbia and hundreds have been evacuated following flooding caused by torrential rain that prompted authorities to declare a state of emergency, officials said on Thursday. Photo courtesy AFP.

Strong 6.6 quake hits near Micronesia
Wellington (AFP) May 15, 2014 - A strong 6.6-magnitude earthquake struck near Micronesia on Thursday, geologists said, but no tsunami warning was issued.

The quake hit at 6:16 pm (0816 GMT) at a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles), 96 kilometres south-southeast of Ifalik in Micronesia, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said.

It followed another 6.1-magnitude quake which hit in almost exactly the same location earlier Thursday.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no threat of a destructive widespread tsunami.

6.2-magnitude quake strikes off Philippines: USGS
Manila (AFP) May 15, 2014 - A strong quake struck at sea off a major island in the central Philippines on Thursday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties and no tsunami warning was issued.

The US Geological Survey said the 6.2-magnitude quake struck the Sulu Sea 38 kilometres (24 miles) off the southwest coast of Negros island at 6:16 pm local time (1016 GMT).

The quake hit at a depth of 53 kilometres, and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said it was not expecting any damage.

The institute measured it at a magnitude of 6.3.

Edmundo Vilches, an official at the civil defence office for the region, said their Negros staff had not reported any casualties or damage.

"There was some swaying of furniture here at the office, but nothing serious," Vilches told AFP by telephone from Iloilo city on Panay island near Negros.

Three people have drowned in Serbia and more than 3,000 evacuated following flooding caused by torrential rain that prompted authorities to declare a state of emergency, officials said Thursday.

"A man who refused to leave his home as suggested by rescuers drowned overnight in Umcari," a southwestern suburb of the Serbian capital Belgrade, mayor Sinisa Mali said.

Another man and a woman drowned near the western town of Lajkovac, Mali told reporters.

The government has sent the army to help rescuers evacuate those who are stranded.

"This is the worst natural catastrophe that has ever hit Serbia," Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said while touring the flooded areas.

More than 3,300 people have been evacuated from western and southwestern parts of Serbia, while more than 200 others were awaiting army choppers and rescuers to take them to safer areas.

Schools in Belgrade and 18 other towns will remain closed for the rest of the week.

Some 100,000 households with an estimated 300,000 inhabitants, mostly in rural western Serbia, have been left without electricity.

Serbia's sole power utility company EPS said it had halted two hydro-power plants due to high water levels on the Morava river.

Floods have also disrupted production in two mines near Belgrade, the main suppliers of major coal-fired power plants, the company said.

In order to lower the water pressure for other hydro-power plants, the EPS said it had opened flood gates at the biggest plant Djerdap on the Danube, as its levels were below the normal ones.

A rescuer went missing in the central town of Toplica, while traffic was halted on the main highway linking Serbia with its southern neighbour Montenegro.

Landslides were registered in a number of towns, with hundreds of vehicles stranded on flooded roads.

In western Serbia, snow and strong winds have cut off a number of villages.

Railway traffic with Montenegro as well as the southern town of Nis was also halted due to heavy flooding from the rivers Drina and Morava.

The government has asked the European Union and Russia for assistance, a statement said.

Severe flooding also hit neighbouring Bosnia, which saw its heaviest rains in the past 120 years.

The authorities declared a state of emergency in several parts of Bosnia, ordering the army to help out rescuers.

Hundreds of homes were cut off or flooded after the Miljacka river, which runs through Sarajevo, broke its banks on Wednesday.

Some 3,500 homes in the capital were left without power.

Authorities said emergency workers were supplying food and medicines to those trapped in their homes.

"Thousands of people are in danger, but thankfully, there are no victims," Muslim member of Bosnia's joint presidency Bakir Izetbegovic told reporters.

Two towns in western Bosnia, Maglaj and Doboj, could be reached only by boats, as all the roads and streets, were completely flooded.

Several hundred people have been evacuated from their homes, officials said.

Bosnia has also called for international assistance, Izetbegovic said.


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