July 30, 2014 / 4:23 PM / 5 years ago

Hundreds evacuated as Romanian floods wreak havoc

An excavator clears debris after flash floods in Novaci, southwest Romania, July 30, 2014. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel

VAIDEENI Romania (Reuters) - One person died and three others were missing after heavy rain caused floods in southwest Romania over the past three days, forcing hundreds of villagers to flee their homes, the interior ministry said on Wednesday.

Heavy rainfall broke river banks in the affected counties of Gorj, Valcea, Arges and Teleorman, about 200 kilometers west of the capital Bucharest.

Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea said 400 people were rescued from 1,100 homes in the area and given temporary shelter in nearby schools and police stations or at relatives’ homes. He did not give any details on the person who was killed or the three missing.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta told an emergency cabinet meeting that a damage assessment would be released on Thursday. “Today we can surely say that no life is in danger anymore,” he said.

The state environment authority said rivers in the area rose to levels seen about once every 200 years.

The small village of Vaideeni was the worst hit and 210 people had to be evacuated. Overall, the floods had affected 63 villages, according to the interior ministry, which said it was using helicopters to rescue stranded villagers.

Weather forecasters said more counties in southern Romania could be affected later in the week with more torrential rains on the horizon.

Floods hit neighboring Bulgaria last month, killing at least 10 people, cutting off electricity, blocking roads and forcing people to evacuate.

In late May, neighboring Balkan countries Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia were hit by the heaviest rainfall since records began 120 years ago. At least 40 people were killed.

Reporting by Bogdan Cristel; Writing by Radu Marinas; Editing by Susan Fenton

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